Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Kane, Garfield counties sue over halt to new coal leases on federal land

Two Utah counties have filed a lawsuit challenging a federal halt to granting new coal leases, arguing the moratorium is blocking a mine expansion that could pump millions of dollars into the local economies. The suit marks the first challenge to the moratorium ordered in January by the Obama administration. The counties claim the moratorium was an arbitrary move that could force the mine to close.

The halt is expected to last at least three years while the U.S. Department of the Interior weighs whether fees charged to mining companies provide a fair return to taxpayers and reflect coal's impact on the environment. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to rescind the moratorium.

The leases were halted amid concerns about climate change and other issues linked to the $1 billion-a-year coal leasing program. There have been some limited exceptions to the moratorium said a spokeswoman for the Department of the Interior. Deseret News