Zinke lifts federal coal leasing moratorium.
In late March, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke issued Secretarial Order 3348 revoking the January 16, 2016, order 3338 issued by Secretary Sally Jewell that placed a moratorium on federal coal leases. Order 3338 imposed a three-year moratorium, with exceptions, on further coal lease sales pending completion of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) analyzing potential leasing and management reforms of the federal coal program.
The new secretarial order fellow's President Donald Trump's executive order to promote energy independence and economic growth, which, among several pro-coal initiatives, directed Secretary Zinke to lift the leasing moratorium. In addition to lifting the moratorium and discontinuing the development of the PEIS, Zinke also signed a charter reconstituting the Royalty Policy Committee (RPC)--the advisory board tasked with evaluating fair market value and the collection of revenue from energy and mineral resources. The RPC had lapsed under the prior administration when the former secretary failed to renew the charter. The National Mining Association (NMA) said it will be working with the agency to ensure the mining industry views are represented on the committee so that the secretary is advised appropriately on royalty and leasing issues.
Several environmental groups that had urged the Obama administration to impose a leasing moratorium have filed a legal challenge to the termination it in Montana federal court. The NMA said it is evaluating its possible intervention in the case.
Caption: Secretary Ryan Zinke signs the secretarial orders.