Dean James at Right Wing Tribune
A federal judge late Friday delivered a significant setback to the Trump administration’s policy of promoting coal, ruling that the Interior Department acted illegally when it sought to lift an Obama-era moratorium on coal mining on public lands.
The judge in Montana delayed the Trump administration’s attempt to open up more federal lands to coal mining.
The decision, by Judge Brian Morris of the United States District Court of the District of Montana, does not reinstate President Barack Obama’s 2016 freeze on new coal mining leases on public lands. That policy was part of an effort by the Obama administration to curtail the burning of coal, a major producer of greenhouse gases contributing to climate change, The New York Times reported.
But the court ruling does say that the 2017 Trump administration policy, enacted by former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, to overturn Mr. Obama’s coal mining ban did not include adequate studies of the environmental effects of the mining, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, or NEPA, one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws.
“Federal Defendants’ decision not to initiate the NEPA process proves arbitrary and capricious,” Judge Morris wrote.
“Federal Defendants’ decision not to initiate the [National Environmental Policy Act] process proves arbitrary and capricious,” Morris, who was nominated to the federal bench by Obama in 2013, wrote in his decision, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported.
The next push to overturn Obama’s moratorium on selling coal mining leases for federal land will fall to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. Bernhardt took charge of the DOI as acting secretary after Zinke left the department in January. The Senate confirmed Bernhardt’s nomination on April 11.
Trump campaigned on reviving America’s faltering coal industry to save jobs in the sector as well as promote U.S. energy independence from foreign sources. Environmental activists and Democrats have hampered the administration’s progress, claiming that emissions from the sector are worsening climate change and may do irreparable harm to the environment.
The courts themselves have put up some of the stiffest resistance to the Trump administration’s policies. A federal judge in Alaska struck down two different Trump administration acts in March.
In one case, the Trump administration negotiated a land swap with a remote Alaskan community so the village could construct a road to the areas only all-weather airport. The second court ruling struck down an order from Trump to revoke a ban on oil and gas exploration in federal waters in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.
They just keep f**king with Trump and I am getting sick and tired of this garbage.