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Demand a moratorium on new coal leases

22,347
Supporters Spoke up in this Action
Delivery to the Department of the Interior

Action Ended On

September 20, 2021

What Happens Next

Thank you to all who took action! The Department of the Interior will now review your comments before deciding its course of action. We're grateful for your support, and we will be sure to keep you in the loop if there are further developments.

What was at Stake

Eliminating the use of all fossil fuels is key to fighting the climate crisis, and that starts with coal — one of the worst sources of climate-heating pollution in the world. The Obama administration recognized this and implemented a moratorium on new federal coal leases, but the Trump administration undid the moratorium to protect polluter profits — prompting an Earthjustice lawsuit. Now, the Biden administration has announced it is taking another look at federal coal policies. Tell the administration to undo the Trump administration’s damage.

Here’s why the federal government must stop leasing coal from our public lands:

  • The relevant coal leases would account for 16.3% of the United States’ annual emissions — approving them would be a climate disaster
  • Leasing rates are significantly below market value, effectively subsidizing the coal industry
  • Coal mining pollutes our water and air, and destroys habitat for wildlife on our public lands
  • Industry has not complied with requirements to clean up and keep communities safe

We cannot accept any more delay in addressing the harm from leasing coal on our public lands. More than 200 coal leases are coming up for renewal in the next four years, and if the Biden administration doesn’t act, they will be renewed under Trump’s polluter-friendly rules.

We need to make it clear to the Biden administration that they will be directly responsible for an immense amount of avoidable climate pollution, and harm to our water and air quality, if they continue to lease coal. Please join us in calling on the Biden administration to respond to the reality of the climate crisis by enacting a moratorium on coal leasing.

Arch Coal's Black Thunder Mine, Powder River Basin, Wyoming.
Photo courtesy of Ecoflight

Arch Coal's Black Thunder Mine, Powder River Basin, Wyoming. More than 80 percent of the federal coal applied for under paused leases is in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana. Mining operations often occur at the expense of agricultural producers.

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.