With the Paris climate talks just around the corner, environmental groups are asking the Department of the Interior to consider climate change when approving coal mine projects.
The letter, signed by activists like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club calls on DOI to deny five proposed mine expansion plans in Wyoming, North Dakota, Utah, Montana, and Colorado.
Jeremy Nichols of WildEarth Guardians, one of the groups behind the letter cites the Mineral Leasing Act, which says: "Prior to issuance of any coal lease...the Secretary shall consider impacts on the environment."
"This is an opportunity to show that we're serious about moving away from coal and truly reducing carbon emissions...They have discretion to say because of the environmental impacts, no. And because of the climate costs it is time to say no," Nichols said.
Over the past decade, around five billion tons of coal have been mined on federal land, most of it in Wyoming and Montana. The Department of the Interior confirmed receipt of the letter but would not comment further.