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Natural Resources & Energy

Conservation Groups Argue Peabody Leases Were Improperly Approved

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WildEarth Guardians

Conservation groups WildEarth Guardians and the Sierra Club recently filed a complaint with the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, OSMRE, over two coal leases approved in 2012.

The groups say Peabody Energy’s North and South Porcupine leases, which expanded the North Antelope Rochelle mine in the Powder River Basin, were improperly approved and that the company should no longer be allowed to mine there. 

The complaint calls on OSMRE to investigate the leases, which were signed by a district manager of the Bureau of Land Management rather than a state manager.

Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program Director for WildEarth Guardians, said, “That’s what we’re getting at here. Not necessarily that OSM is gonna reverse the leases. But OSM is gonna to say, ‘Yeah, we probably shouldn’t have issued a permit. And, so, we’re going to have to take some steps to resolve that.'"

Nichols added there is legal standing for the groups’ complaint. Back in February, WildEarth Guardians, the Powder River Basin Resource Council, and the Sierra Club successfully overturned another lease modification in Wyoming for being inappropriately approved. 

In Peabody Energy's official response, the company defends its leases.  

“We believe our leases were appropriately issued. Our coal mining activities bring enormous revenues to the federal government while benefiting Americans through affordable electricity.”

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is expected to issue its response by next week.

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