Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 28, 2017

Contact:  Taylor McKinnon, (801) 300-2414,   

Public Records Sought on Trump, Zinke Communications Over Coal Orders

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity today filed a Freedom of Information Act request demanding records of communication between the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management, transition team members and industry officials relating to the Trump administration's order attacking a year-old moratorium on new federal coal leasing. 

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will host a press conference Wednesday in which he is expected to announce a secretarial order on the moratorium. Both orders target the Obama administration's January 2016 moratorium on new federal coal leasing pending completion of a review of the federal coal leasing program, including its costs to taxpayers and its impacts on climate.

“These public records will shed light on the Trump administration's dangerous decision to resume selling off our beautiful public lands to coal companies,” said Taylor McKinnon with the Center. “Every new coal lease will put America at greater risk of climate change's most catastrophic effects.”

The federal coal program, which is a major source of U.S. carbon emissions and chronically shortchanges taxpayers by selling for far below market rates, hasn't been reexamined since earlier Nixon- and Reagan-era moratoriums. But the federal government recently recognized the need for fundamental reform — including the possibility of setting a carbon budget limit for federal coal, or ending the program entirely. Scientists have called on the United States to stop new coal leasing to help prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.

Coal mined from public lands contributes more than 40 percent of the United States' coal and approximately 10 percent of its greenhouse gas pollution. Coal mining and combustion also impose heavy air quality and public health costs through emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and mercury.

The Interior Department's preliminary report last month recognized that “modernization of the Federal coal program is warranted. While energy markets, communities, environmental conditions, and national priorities have changed dramatically, the program has remained fairly static in its administration over the last thirty years.”

Download today's requests here and here.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.2 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

More press releases