Western Organization of Resource Councils
Action Alert

Dear Jeanne,

The Bureau of Land Management is taking a new round of public comments on the climate change impact of energy development of federal lands and minerals.

The BLM needs to hear from you: please tell the agency to address climate change when deciding how much federal coal to lease.

In 2015, the BLM revised a set of “resource management plans,” which opened up massive portions of northeast Wyoming and southeast Montana to new coal development. The plans for the areas near Buffalo, Wyoming, and Miles City, Montana, cover the Powder River Basin, one of the largest recoverable coal deposits on the planet. They opened millions of acres overlying nearly 80 billion tons of publicly owned federal coal to mining companies. That’s twenty times the amount of coal that has been mined in the last decade.

Opening up so much federally owned coal cuts against any reasonable policy to avoid destabilizing the planet’s climate system. In response, WORC, with the Powder River Basin Resource Council, Northern Plains Resource Council, and other partners, sued the BLM to force the agency to reconsider how much coal to put up for sale. A federal judge decided in our favor, sending BLM back to the drawing board.

In light of the judge’s order, BLM has now proposed making a slightly smaller amount of coal available for leasing, but ignored our calls for a full review of the coal leasing program and an analysis of stopping coal leasing for the next 20 years. BLM is again taking public comments, which is where you can help.

Please tell BLM today: do not lease more coal in the Powder River Basin for the next 20 years.

The findings of a recent US Geological Survey report are stark: emissions from fossil fuels produced on federal lands accounted for 23.7 percent of national emissions of CO2 and 7.3 percent of national methane emissions in recent years. And there’s a simple explanation: the Bureau of Land Management has long ignored its role in accelerating climate change through its management of federal lands and minerals.

The BLM has also ignored its mandate to achieve a fair market value for the federal coal it leases to mining companies. A series of government watchdogs have highlighted a pattern of fire-sale prices paid for public coal. Several years of public pressure to address these problems by WORC groups and our allies finally yielded results in January, 2017.

That is when the BLM released a national report as part of a programmatic review of the federal coal leasing program, which found a significant need to modernize the program to address climate issues and ensure that taxpayers receive a fair return on publicly owned resources. Then-Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell put a pause on new federal coal leases in order to give BLM the breathing room to chart a new course on coal leasing, but Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke ended the pause (and the programmatic review) soon after taking office.

The BLM has another chance to align its coal leasing policies with a fair return for taxpayer owners and the imperatives of climate change. Please join us in telling BLM to pause its irresponsible coal leasing practices today.



Executive Director


Western Organization of Resource Councils

220 S 27th St Ste B
Billings, MT 59101
United States


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