16 January 2016

This is huge news; U.S. Announces Moratorium On New Coal Leases On Federal Lands 15JAN16
AMAZING environmental news this week, Pres Obama has declared a moratorium on coal sales on public lands!!!!! The momentum to address climate change, from stopping the keystone xl pipeline through the Paris Climate Change summit to the flight to stop the huge oil export terminal in Vancouver, WA, is ours. Big coal companies are filing bankruptcy, big oil is canceling oil field exploration and development, while conservation, energy efficiency, and expansion of solar and wind power drive the American people's desire for cleaner, renewable energy. is calling on people to join their campaign calling on the U.S. government to stop all sales of fossil fuels from public lands, click the link to sign. This from and +NPR .....
Huge news: the Obama administration is putting a moratorium on new coal sales on public lands.
This moratorium will keep enormous amounts of carbon in the ground and move the U.S. closer toward hitting our climate goals set in Paris. And if our next President makes the moratorium permanent, this could end up being the single biggest step toward keeping fossil fuels in the ground that the U.S. has ever taken. We’re talking about 212 gigatons of carbon left safely underground! (To put that in perspective, the Canadian tar sands represent about 240 gigatons of carbon.)
This is a real movement-driven victory too: from marching in the streets across the country (and around the world) this past December, to winning big fights like the Keystone XL rejection and Arctic drilling -- today’s announcement is possible because of the momentum that you’ve had a hand in creating. The climate movement is really changing the political game.
And we can’t stop now. This win is a huge deal, but this fight isn’t over. We’re calling on Obama to end all government sales of fossil fuels -- including oil and gas.
The administration’s plan is to stop federal coal sales and do a complete review of the federal coal leasing program, which has essentially been giving away our public lands to the fossil fuel industry to extract coal (and oil and gas) since 1920.
Most importantly, the review will focus on the climate impacts of coal -- and any proper climate review will conclude that we need to leave the coal on public lands untouched. The industry already has five times more coal, oil and gas reserves than we can safely burn. Keeping climate change below 2°C, which the Obama administration has pledged to do -- let alone the 1.5°C it said in Paris that we should be aiming for -- means a radical shift toward keeping fossil fuels in the ground across the board.
Here’s what the head of the National Mining Association said about this decision: “It appears that they’re going after the federal coal leasing program with the intention of keeping coal in the ground.” Yes!
Keeping coal in the ground is exactly what needs to happen. Let’s make sure oil and gas are next. Click here to ask President Obama to go even further.
Fossil fuels have no place in a 21st century energy plan, and our government has no business selling them. President Obama could keep half of all U.S. fossil fuels underground forever by banning government sales of all fossil fuels.
Fossil fuel companies already have way more fossil fuels than we can burn -- we can’t afford to sell them any more. This win is great news, but this fight is nowhere near done.
We’ve got the upper hand right now, and momentum is key. Click here to turn up the heat.
Let’s keep winning,
  1. In Climate Move, Obama Halts New Coal Mining Leases on Public Lands, New York Times.
  2. The Potential Greenhouse Gas Emissions from U.S. Federal Fossil Fuels, Eco-Shift Consulting.
  3. Game Over for the Climate, James Hansen, New York Times. is building a global climate movement. Become a sustaining donor to keep this movement strong and growing.

The federal government will stop issuing new coal leases on some 570 million acres of federal land, under a new plan being released Friday. In this photo from 2013, coal is loaded onto a truck at a mine built on federally controlled land in Montana.
The federal government will stop issuing new coal leases on some 570 million acres of federal land, under a new plan being released Friday. In this photo from 2013, coal is loaded onto a truck at a mine built on federally controlled land in Montana.
Matthew Brown/AP 
Citing concerns over pricing and pollution, the Obama administration on Friday unveiled a moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands. The change won't affect existing leases, which generated nearly $1.3 billion for the government last year.
The Department of the Interior says it wants to make sure the money it's charging for coal leases takes into account both market prices and what's often called the "social costs" of coal — its impact on climate change and public health.
The agency says federal lands account for roughly 40 percent of all U.S. coal production.
NPR's Jeff Brady reports:
"The moratorium will remain in place while the agency reviews whether fees charged to mining companies provides a fair return and considers coal's effect on the environment. Leases already awarded are not affected."
Update at 10:50 a.m. ET: Two Reactions
As you would expect, there are vastly different reactions to the announcement. We'll excerpt two here.
First, from Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council:
"The president is right to stop this handout to big coal companies, which has cost American taxpayers more than $30 billion over the past three decades."
And from Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources:
"This unprecedented action will completely shut down coal leasing on Federal lands and will disproportionately harm the poorest among us."
Our original post continues:
The review process is expected to take about three years. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced the change in a conference call Friday morning. Before that call, an administration official confirmed details of the plan to Jeff.
During what her agency is calling a "pause" in issuing leases, Jewell said Friday, "we'll make accommodations in the event of emergency circumstances to ensure this pause will have no material impact on the nation's ability to meet its power generation needs."
In addition to analyzing the return American taxpayers are earning on the use of natural resources, the Interior Department says it'll also review coal's public health impacts.
The federal Bureau of Land Management handles coal leasing on the approximately 570 million acres of land. In 2014, 475 million of those acres were covered by leases, along with one sale.
The federal shift on coal leases comes weeks after the BLM announced that in 2015, its coal program had taken in about $1.29 billion in royalties, rents and bonuses. That's from a release in which the agency celebrated "major gains in 2015 ensuring safe and responsible energy development on public lands."
Last spring, Jewell called for a new discussion of the federal coal program, focusing on the fairness of prices charged for coal leases and other concerns at five public meetings.
The U.S. government shares coal-lease revenue with the states where the land is located. In recent years, that has meant hundreds of millions of dollars for Wyoming, which accounts for the most acreage and leases in the federal system and is the nation's leading coal producer.
In 2014, the most recent year with complete data, Wyoming received more than $555 million in royalties and revenues, with more than 200,000 acres covered by 102 federal leases. Colorado and Utah are the next-largest participants, with more than 80,000 acres.