States, tribe seek to suspend coal sales from US lands

FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2014, file photo, a shovel loads haulers with coal at the Antelope Mine north of Douglas, Wyo. A coalition of U.S. states, environmentalists and an American Indian tribe are seeking to revive a moratorium on coal sales from public lands in the West.

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge threw out a lawsuit on Friday from a coalition of states, environmental groups and American Indians which sought to revive an Obama-era moratorium against U.S. government coal sales on public lands in the West.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris said the President Donald Trump's administration had fixed its initial failure to consider the environmental impacts of ending the moratorium.

The administration's opponents had argued it did not look closely enough at climate change and other effects from burning coal.

Trump pledged to end the moratorium prior to being elected and in office has sought to boost the industry, despite market forces that have sharply curtailed mining.

Coal production has been dropping for years because of competition from cheaper fuels and pollution costs.

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the decline. But critics of the coal program note that lease sales have continued and say the administration’s moves could open tens of thousands of acres of public lands to new mining.

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