End Coal Mining on Public Lands!

6,542 signatures toward our 50,000 Goal

13.08% Complete

Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

Demand the federal government end support for an industry that destroys the environment.


Coal demand has been dropping for years as producers face competition from cheaper fuels and rising costs to control pollution1. The coronavirus pandemic has further reduced the demand, yet a previous administration saw it fit to prop this failing industry up by opening tens of thousands of acres of public lands to new mining leases2.

It's put Americans and our environment at great risk.

A U.S. District Court ruled in April 2019 that the administration broke the law by not considering the potential damage to the environment when it lifted the moratorium. Following that ruling, the Department of the Interior released a rushed environmental assessment that looked at only four coal leases that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had previously issued, and concluded the leases did not cause any significant harm to the environment3.

The department's abbreviated version of an "environmental assessment" is typically reserved for actions that have no significant environmental impact. A more rigorous "environmental impact statement," or EIS, is required for significant federal actions. Under Interior Department policies, an EIS must be prepared for even a single federal coal lease, let alone the entire federal coal program4.

Rather, the DOI gave the public just 15 days to comment on its 35-page environmental assessment, and did not consult with tribes or wildlife agencies regarding impacts to cultural resources or endangered species4. The assessment did not consider BLM's other coal-leasing activities over the 570-million acre federal mineral estate, which contains approximately 255 billion tons of mineable coal3.

About 40% of coal burned in the U.S. comes from federal leases5, which causes about a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. Federal coal production by itself caused 13 percent of all U.S. CO2 pollution in 20146.

Unleased fossil fuels on federally owned lands contain up to 450 billion tons (GtCO2e) of potential climate pollution; those already leased to industry contain up to 43 GtCO2e. Leased federal oil, gas and coal are projected to last long after global carbon budgets have been exhausted7.

It's no longer a question of economics. Keeping the coal industry afloat is killing Americans and killing the environment, and the federal government must stop supporting coal interests on public lands.

Sign the petition below and demand a moratorium on new coal leases on federally owned lands.

More on this issue:

  1. Matthew Brown, the Associated Press (22 May 2020), "Judge nixes bid to stop coal sales that Trump revived."
  2. Matthew Brown, the Associated Press (13 May 2020), "States, tribe seek to suspend coal sales on US lands."
  3. Liz Trotter, Earthjustice (20 July 2020), "Lawsuit Challenges Trump Administration’s Order to Open Public Lands to Coal Leasing."
  4. Michael Saul, Center for Biological Diversity (22 May 2019), "Disregarding Climate, Trump Administration Pushes to Re-open Public Lands to Coal Leasing."
  5. Matthew Brown, the Associated Press (23 May 2019), "US says Trump coal moves hasten but don't increase emissions."
  6. Peter Erickson and Michael Lazarus, Climatic Change (22 February 2018), "Would constraining US fossil fuel production affect global CO2 emissions? A case study of US leasing policy."
  7. EcoShift Consulting Prepared for The Center for Biological Diversity & Friends of the Earth (July 2016), "Over-Leased: How Production Horizons of Already Leased Federal Fossil Fuels Outlast Global Carbon Budgets."
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The Petition:

Dear Secretary of the Interior and the Director of the Bureau of Land Management,

It's no longer a question of economics. Keeping the coal industry afloat is killing Americans and killing the environment, and the federal government must stop supporting coal interests on public lands.

Even before the moratorium on new coal leases was lifted in 2019, unleased fossil fuels on federally owned lands contained about 450 billion tons (450 gigatons) of potential climate pollution, while those already leased to industry contain up to 43 gigatons. Moreover, leased federal oil, gas and coal are projected to last until 2055, 2044, and 2041, respectively, long after global carbon budgets have been exhausted.

About 40% of coal burned in the U.S. comes from federal leases, causing about a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. Federal coal production by itself caused 13 percent of all U.S. CO2 pollution in 2014.

Scientific study estimates that a federal fossil fuel leasing ban would reduce CO2 emissions by 280 million tons per year, relief our air desperately needs.

Coal demand among utilities has been dropping for years and science has shown that burning coal only worsens the current climate crisis. Americans should not have to foot the bill while their health and the environment is put at risk.

I demand you stand up for a cleaner, healthier future and place a moratorium on new coal leased on federally owned lands today.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: