Climate & Energy Blog

Rollback of public lands coal moratorium accelerates climate change, enriches coal companies

Posted Mar. 28, 2017 / Posted by: Audrey Fox

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a visit today to the Environmental Protection Agency, Donald Trump will issue an Executive Order to undo climate policies put in place by President Obama, according to the administration. Included in today’s Executive Order is a roll back of a moratorium on new coal leasing the Obama administration put in place in January, 2016.

“Allowing new coal leasing on federal lands puts the world one step closer to the climate change abyss,” said Friends of the Earth Senior Political Strategist Ben Schreiber. “Trump is handing the fate of our planet to dirty coal companies that have repeatedly shown that they are willing to poison their workers and the public for their own profit.”

The federal coal program is a significant driver of climate change. Burning the unleased federal coal would emit as much as 212 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent, according to an analysis done by Ecoshift Consulting for the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth. Further, The federal government has already over leased its coal. A second analysis by Ecoshift Consulting for the same groups found that existing federal leases will still be producing coal long after global carbon budgets have been exhausted.

“Americans across the country have embraced the Keep It In the Ground Movement,” said Schreiber. “We have already leased more coal then we can burn, and by reopening this leasing program, Donald Trump is selling the future of our planet to a few millionaires so they can reap the profits. That’s not a shrewd deal, it’s selling out the American people.”

Trump’s anti-climate Executive Order is sure to be unpopular with the American people. The majority of Americans want to see action on climate change. Recent polling by Gallup finds a majority of Americans opposed to opening new public lands for oil exploration.

“Prior to the Obama administration’s moratorium, the federal coal leasing program was giving our public lands to coal companies at steeply discounted prices,” said Schreiber. “Today, Trump handed out another freebee to fossil fuel companies interested in striping the resources from our public lands at cut-rate prices.”

The Obama administration’s moratorium on new coal leasing was put in place by then-Secretary of the Bureau of Land Management Sally Jewel.

###

Expert contact: Ben Schreiber, (202) 222-0752, bschreiber@foe.org
Communications contact: Patrick Davis, (202) 222-0744, pdavis@foe.org

« Back to main page