“Interior: Judge Probes NEPA Review For Coal Leasing Reboot”

“The Trump administration yesterday defended its decision to end a moratorium on new coal leasing, telling a federal judge it had done enough to assess the environmental impact of the policy change.

An attorney for the Bureau of Land Management countered claims by Citizens for Clean Energy, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and other challengers that said the agency had fallen short of its duty under the National Environmental Policy Act to analyze the effects of a 2017 order by former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reversing the Obama-era coal leasing ban.

In addition to clearing the way for new mining, the order halted a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) launched by former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to study the impact of leasing on public lands. Chief Judge Brian Morris of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana last year determined that the Zinke order was subject to NEPA review, at which point BLM launched an environmental assessment, or EA.”

Niina H. Farah reports for Energywire May 14, 2020.