Four Democratic attorneys general sued the Trump administration for reversing a moratorium on issuing coal mining leases on federal lands.
Three of the Democratic AGs — California, New York and Washington — come from states that do not produce coal. Only New Mexico AG Hector Balderas comes from a coal-producing state.
All four Democratic AGs are part of the “Green 20” coalition of top state prosecutors working together to keep Obama administration environmental policies from being repealed and investigate “whether fossil fuel companies misled investors and the public on the impact of climate change on their businesses,” according to a release.
New York AG Eric Schneiderman, the leader of the Green 20, has been one of Trump’s most vocal opponents.
Schneiderman sued the Trump administration for delaying energy efficiency regulations and sued over the administration’s temporary ban on refugees. Washington’s AG also sued Trump over the refugee ban.
AGs filed suit Tuesday, asking the court to overturn Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s order “to restart the federal coal leasing program without conducting a new environmental review or supplementing their outdated review of the program.”
AGs also argued the “decision to restart the federal coal leasing program without evaluating whether the program is in the public interest or ensuring that it will provide fair market value to the public” violates federal law.
President Donald Trump issued an executive order in April to rescind and review Obama administration global warming policies, including a 2016 moratorium on new coal leases.
Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell put a moratorium on new coal mining leases in January 2016 to praise from environmentalists. Jewell said the moratorium would be in place until Interior officials reviewed ways to increase royalties on resource extraction.
The Obama administration said the review was about getting more money for taxpayers, but Republicans and coal industry supporters said it was about keeping coal in the ground. The review would have taken three years.
Zinke ordered Interior to stop it’s review in March, saying it would take years and cost “many million of dollars.”
Democratic AGs say the Interior Department should consider the effects of global warming when leasing new coal mines.
“Climate change has to be considered when we are talking about compensating states and New Mexico citizens for their resources,” Cholla Khoury, the director of consumer and environmental protection for the New Mexico AG’s office, told Voice of America.
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