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Friends of the Earth praises President Obama's decision to keep coal in the ground

Posted Jan. 15, 2016 / Posted by: Kate Colwell

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Obama administration announced today it will conduct a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement to examine the impacts that the federal coal leasing program has on the environment, including climate change. The administration also announced that a moratorium on new coal mining will be put in place while analysis is being conducted. This announcement follows the president’s announcement this week in his State of the Union address that he will push for change in the way coal resources are managed “to better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and the planet.” 

There has not been a comprehensive environmental review of the federal coal leasing program since 1979. Friends of the Earth filed suit, along with the Western Organization of Resource Councils, to compel the Department of Interior to conduct a Programmatic Environmental Impacts Statement of the coal leasing program in November, 2014. In August, 2015 the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia dismissed the litigation. Friends of the Earth and the Western Organization of Resource Councils appealed this dismissal in November, 2015.

Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica issued the following response: 

With today’s announcement President Obama exerted groundbreaking leadership in the global movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground. This is a historic decision that greatly improves the world’s chances of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change and has burnished President Obama’s climate legacy. I applaud him for his leadership.

The movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground across the globe is surging. The thousands of activists who have taken to the streets and demanded that their political leaders keep fossil fuels in the ground paved the way for today’s decision. We are proud to be a part of this movement which takes on the fossil fuel industry, and is winning.

With this decision President Obama sent a clear signal to coal companies, and their investors, that the days of dumping their pollution onto the American public are ending. Coal companies and their investors will no longer be able to hide the fact that their business model is predicated on poisoning communities and the planet. Despite all the money of the fossil industry, today President Obama put the needs of people above those of corporate special interests.  

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Expert contact: Marissa Knodel, (202) 222-0729, mknodel@foe.org

Communications contact: Kate Colwell, (202) 222-0744, kcolwell@foe.org

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