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Coal Mining Report Finds Connection to Greenhouse Gases

Coal mined on public lands accounts for a growing share of greenhouse gases. (Boston Public Library)
Coal mined on public lands accounts for a growing share of greenhouse gases. (Boston Public Library)
January 16, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. – A new report acknowledges that coal mined on public land accounts for 11 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

A year ago the Obama administration halted new leases for coal mining on public land as it conducted a review of the leasing program.

According Jenny Harbine, a staff attorney for the environmental advocacy legal group Earthjustice, the preliminary report released last week by the Bureau of Land Management calls for modernization of the leasing program and states that "climate-change impacts touch nearly every aspect of public welfare."

"The report really underscores the imperative to stop burning coal and transition to clean, renewable energies to prevent an environmental and an economic climate change catastrophe," Harbine states.

Federal coal leases account for about 40 percent of all coal mined in the United States.

Most federal coal is in western states, but Harbine points out that the findings have implications for all coal mining wherever it is taking place.

"The report demonstrates the urgency in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from coal mining and burning of coal and also the inconsistency of mining coal with the U.S.'s climate change commitments," she stresses.

Harbine points out that, while the incoming Trump administration in Washington may have a different opinion on global climate change, that doesn't change the validity of the report.

"These are the facts and we expect the next administration to heed them,” she states. “And if they don't, we'll see them in court."

The North Dakota Geological Survey reports that western North Dakota contains an estimated 351 billion tons of lignite, the single largest deposit of lignite known in the world.

North Dakota also contains an estimated 25 billion tons of economically mineable coal, enough to last for more than 800 years at the present rate of 32 million tons per year.



Jerry Oster, Public News Service - ND