A lawsuit suing the Trump administration over its move to overturn a moratorium on federal coal leasing was announced March 29.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke ordered a temporary moratorium to review the leasing of federal lands to the coal industry the day after an executive order from President Donald Trump. According to a release from Earthjustice, the order would open up "tens of thousands of acres of public lands to the coal industry."
"The Trump administration has basically announced a fire sale to revive the coal industry," said Art Hayes, a southeastern Montana rancher who lives downstream from the Decker and Spring Creek mines, operated by Lighthouse Resources Inc. and Cloud Peak Energy Inc., respectively. "But in the process, they are leaving us ranchers that rely on clean water and a healthy climate in the dust."
The organizations suing the administration pointed to recent internal and independent audits of the Interior that concluded the current leasing process "shortchanges taxpayers" and subsidizes coal producers. Peabody Energy Corp. and Arch Coal Inc., both which mine coal from federal leases, praised Trump's executive order, which included rescinding the Clean Power Plan and other actions beneficial to the coal sector, in separate statements March 28.
The lawsuit is being filed by Earthjustice on behalf of several groups including: Citizens for Clean Energy, Montana Environmental Information Center, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, WildEarth Guardians and Defenders of Wildlife. According to the news release, Northern Cheyenne Tribe is also suing to challenge the decision.