Federal coal sales in Powder River Basin draw suit

2012-05-03T14:40:00Z 2014-08-25T07:10:04Z Federal coal sales in Powder River Basin draw suitThe Associated Press The Associated Press
May 03, 2012 2:40 pm  • 

Citing worries over climate change, two environmental groups announced Thursday that they hope to derail government plans to sell leases on 2 billion tons of coal near a pair of major Wyoming mines.

The Sierra Club and Wild Earth Guardians say mining and burning coal from the federal leases would release huge amounts of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, exacerbating climate change.

The groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., that targets four recent and proposed coal lease sales in the Powder River Basin. That's an area of Montana and Wyoming that produces more coal than any other region of the country.

The Bureau of Land Management leases are near two of the largest coal mines in the world — Arch Coal's Black Thunder mine and Peabody Energy's North Antelope Rochelle mine.

"What we're seeking is for these leases to be overturned," said Jeremy Nichols with Wild Earth Guardians. "It's buyer beware at this point."

The BLM addressed climate change issues in its decision to sell the coal leases, but said it was not the agency's place to regulate emissions from burning the fuel.

"We recognize that it's going to be burned; we just don't know where it's going to be burned," BLM spokeswoman Beverly Gorny said.

The agency also said the leases "would not result in the creation of new sources of human-caused GHG (greenhouse gas) and mercury emissions" because even if the coal was not mined, power plants would simply turn to other mines to get the coal they need.

One of the four leases, known as the South Hilight coal field, already has been sold to Arch. Mining on the affected property has not begun.

Another sale — the South Porcupine tracts near the North Antelope mine — is scheduled for May 17, Gorny said. Peabody subsidiary BTU Western Resources bid $361 million on the 401-million-ton tracts last year, but that was rejected by the BLM as too low.

A sale date for the two other leases has not been set.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More from the Gazette

Legitimate questions and politics collide with welfare whistleblowers

Legitimate questions and politics collide with welfare whistleblowers

5 hours ago Photos

Photos

Loading…
Taxing and spending: How much money is coming in and how will it be spent

Taxing and spending: How much money is coming in and how will it be spent

16 hours ago Photos

Photos

Loading…
Helena man sentenced to 50 years for 11th drunk-driving offense

Helena man sentenced to 50 years for 11th drunk-driving offense

January 24, 2015 11:00 amLoading…
Missoula native Darian Stevens seeking X Games medal

Missoula native Darian Stevens seeking X Games medal

January 24, 2015 10:30 amLoading…
Carroll Saints help woman, child from burning car

Carroll Saints help woman, child from burning car

January 24, 2015 10:19 amLoading…
UM economists: Tourism powers economy, gas prices a concern in Bakken

UM economists: Tourism powers economy, gas prices a concern in Bakken

January 24, 2015 10:00 amLoading…
Man convicted in North Dakota oil patch murder appealing

Man convicted in North Dakota oil patch murder appealing

January 24, 2015 9:33 amLoading…

House committee advances income tax cut bills

January 23, 2015 6:15 pmLoading…
Plan would help small business pay for health insurance

Plan would help small business pay for health insurance

January 23, 2015 3:38 pmLoading…
Supporters rally as lawmakers weigh preschool plan

Supporters rally as lawmakers weigh preschool plan

January 23, 2015 1:23 pm Photos

Photos

Loading…
Lawmaker seeks to up penalty for abuse of pregnant women

Lawmaker seeks to up penalty for abuse of pregnant women

January 23, 2015 12:35 pmLoading…

Whitefish man pleads no contest to felony arson

January 23, 2015 11:41 amLoading…
Browning man accused of killing 3 grizzlies must pay $30K

Browning man accused of killing 3 grizzlies must pay $30K

January 23, 2015 11:16 amLoading…

Follow The Billings Gazette

Popular Stories

Get weekly ads via e-mail

Deals & Offers

Featured Businesses