WildEarth Guardians Urge Interior Secretary To Tell MoCo Commissioners to “Keep Coal In The Ground”

wildearthThe WildEarth Guardians have issued a response to the Moffat County Commissioners meeting scheduled for tomorrow with Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewel.  Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program Director. Stressed in a release that he wants Jewel to tell the Commissioners that “it’s time to move toward keeping coal in the ground.”  The entire text of the WildEarth Guardians response is below:

WildEarth Guardians is urging Sally Jewell, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, to address the truthful climate implications of coal mining when she meets with officials from Craig, Colorado this week.

“The reality is, we can’t safeguard the climate and keep burning coal,” said Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program Director. “Sally Jewell has said it’s time for an honest conversation around the federal coal program, and now is her chance to convey that it’s time to move toward keeping coal in the ground.”

It was announced yesterday that Sally Jewell, responding to pressure, had added a meeting with local officials from Craig to her itinerary while in Colorado this week. The pressure comes in response to WildEarth Guardians’ successful lawsuit challenging the Interior Department’s illegal approval of expanded coal mining in northwestern Colorado.

The suit challenged the failure of Interior to address the impacts of burning more coal when approving more mining. Last week, Interior declined to appeal the ruling in federal court.

“For too long, Interior has turned its back on the fact that more mining means more carbon, saddling our nation with immense climate costs,” said Nichols. “We need Sally Jewell to be clear with the American public that coal’s days are numbered, especially so communities like Craig, Colorado can move their economies away from fossil fuels and in a more sustainable and prosperous direction.”

Sally Jewell’s meeting comes amid growing recognition that the federal coal program overseen by the Interior Department is in need of reform. More than 40% of all coal produced in the U.S. is publicly owned and managed by Interior. The vast majority of this coal is in the western U.S.

In a speech in March, Sally Jewell told an audience that it’s time to ask ourselves “How do we manage the [federal coal] program in a way that is consistent with our climate change objectives?”

In a move to advance reforms, the Interior Department announced last week a series of listening sessions in August, including one in Denver, to discuss how to modernize the federal coal program.

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