Success! No More Coal Mining On Public Lands

Coal burning is the single biggest air polluter: It’s responsible for a whopping one third of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions, which is the primary cause of climate disruption.

Thankfully, the Obama administration announced on January 15 that it has halted new coal mining leases on public land while the Department of the Interior launches a comprehensive review of the federal coal program.

Congratulations To Care2 Activists!

Care2 has extensively covered the campaign against coal, some of the dirtiest energy around, from an examination of why Big Coal’s arguments against Clean Air Standards are bogus, to Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton’s $30 billion plan for miners when coal production is phased out.

More than 14,000 members signed the petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, urging President Obama to step up as a true climate leader and stop new fossil fuel development on America’s public lands. In addition, almost 5,000 Care2 activists signed the Sierra Club’s petition, telling the U.S. Forest Service to stop climate disruption at its source by keeping the 350 million tons of coal in the ground.

Announcing the decision, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said, “Given serious concerns raised about the federal coal program, we’re taking the prudent step to hit pause on approving significant new leases so that decisions about those leases can benefit from the recommendations that come out of the review.” In a bit of double-talk that not’s exactly transparent, the Secretary added that the plan is to structure the country’s coal program to ensure that energy needs are met, but also to “provide a fair return to American taxpayers and take into account its impacts on climate change.”

How much difference will this make? It’s hard to say for sure, but right now close to 40 percent of the nation’s coal is mined on public land, most of it in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming.

The Demise Of Big Coal

Coal mining in the U.S. is on the way out. According to numbers released recently by the US Energy Information Administration, U.S. coal production has stumbled to its lowest levels since 1986, falling 10% from 2014 numbers. So this is another setback for Big Coal, and one that steers investors away from putting their money in fossil fuels.

The decision is the latest move by President Obama to burnish his image as an environmentalist. And the step was not unexpected: in his State of the Union address last week he said “I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.”

This follows up on Obama’s decision last year to exercise his executive authority under the Clean Air Act to limit carbon dioxide emission from coal-fired power plants. To no one’s surprise, Republicans have declared that Obama’s actions are unacceptable and amount to a war on coal.

The Effects of Coal Production

Coal production goes beyond carbon dioxide emissions. Here are just a few more dangerous effects of coal production:

* Coal plants are the leading source of sulfur dioxide pollution in the U.S. Sulfur dioxides cause acid rain, which takes a major toll on public health.

* Along with sulfur dioxides, nitrogen oxides also form acid rain when they enter the atmosphere.

* Particulate matter (also know as soot or fly ash) is produced when coal is burned, and has been linked to asthma, heart disease, emphysema and cancer.

* Every year, U.S. coal plants produce 140 million tons of coal ash, or slurry, which ends up in open-air pits and can contaminate drinking water supplies.

So while it’s great that, under pressure from Care2 members and other activists, President Obama has announced his decision to halt all coal mining on public lands for now, it’s important that we keep putting pressure on him to go further. 

If you agree, please add your signature to the Center for Biological Diversity’s petition, asking the President to ‘Keep It In The Ground.’

And if you have an issue that’s troubling you, and you want to make a difference, whether locally or anywhere around the world, you can start your own Care2 petition, and Care2 activists will join in your cause and help you spread the word.



Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Katie D.
Katie D1 years ago

Yes this is definitely some good news. Thank you Mr President for following though on promises you made and everyone who signed these petitions to bring attention to this problem.

Ana R
ANA MARIJA R1 years ago

A good step in the right direction. Second positive news today!! :) Thank you.

donald Baumgartner
donald B1 years ago

Good news !!!!

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se1 years ago


Amy C.
Amy C1 years ago

Yes, let keep the ball rolling. Very uplifting

Carole R.
Carole R1 years ago

Going in the right direction.

FOTEINI horbou1 years ago


Trish K.
Trish K1 years ago

This President gets so much done without the Racist congress. He is the hardest working President in the world.

Rosemary Underhay

Keep up the fight.