Judge dismisses lawsuit to reinstate ban on federal coal mining leases

Another effort to reinstate Obama-era restrictions on coal mining died in the courts this week.

Siding with the Trump administration, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris dismissed a lawsuit that attempted to reinstate a ban on the leasing of federal land to producers of coal, The Hill reported.

The ban

In an effort to combat so-called climate change, the Obama administration instituted a moratorium stopping the U.S. government from leasing land out west to coal companies.

Back when Donald Trump was a presidential candidate, he promised that he would put an end to what he referred to as the “war on coal.” Since then, he has enacted policies to help out the coal industry, which included the ending of this moratorium.

In response, California’s activist attorney general Xavier Becerra (D) and several other U.S. states, environmental groups, and tribes came together to file a lawsuit attempting to get the moratorium reinstated.

This is how the lawsuit got underway.

The case

The Trump administration, in response, attempted to get the lawsuit dismissed. But initially they were unsuccessful.

Judge Morris found in 2017 that the Trump administration, in its attempt to get the case thrown out, failed to address in its argument the environmental consequences that may result from ending the moratorium. So for a time the moratorium remained.

In February of this year, however, the Trump administration put out an analysis that showed that allowing the production of coal on federal lands would have no tangible environmental impact.

The plaintiffs, in response, tried to argue that the analysis was incorrect because the number of leases it considered was incomplete and the long-term impact of those leases wasn’t accurately portrayed. But Judge Morris wasn’t having it.

It’s over

On Friday, Judge Morris dismissed the plaintiff’s case, ruling that the analysis put forth by the Trump administration was sufficient to “remed[y] the violation” of not considering the environmental impact of ending the moratorium.

There is a chance, however, that this case will be revived as Morris said that the “plaintiffs remain free to file a complaint to challenge the sufficiency of the (environmental analysis) and the issuance of any individual coal leases.” But, for now, it looks like another Obama-era policy is, thankfully, over.

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