The Black Thunder coal mine in Wyoming's Powder River Basin. Image: EcoFlight
CASPER, Wyo. -- The National Wildlife Federation and its state affiliates have joined other sportsmen's and conservation organizations in urging the Interior Department to modernize its federal coal program for the good of wildlife, conservation and the public.
Federal officials are reviewing the program to ensure a fair return to U.S. taxpayers, require that mined land is reclaimed before more public land is leased, improve reclamation standards and provide funding to restore wildlife habitat.
The Bureau of Land Management held public meetings across the country as part of the assessment of the federal coal program in what would be the first update of regulations in more than 30 years.
“As more coal companies declare bankruptcy and struggle to cover costs, American taxpayers face the risk of getting stuck with the bill to reclaim the growing backlog of disturbed land, much of it in the heart of important wildlife habitat. Now more than ever, it is time for coal leasing reform on our public lands: our fish and wildlife depend on it; our workers depend on it; and our way of life depends on it." ~ Brenda Lindlief Hall, NWF coal program coordinator.