Interior says it isn't immediately reinstating coal leasing moratorium despite revoking Trump order

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Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandInterior Department to reconvene council on Native American issues Interior delays consideration of opening public Alaska lands to development Julia Letlow sworn in as House member after winning election to replace late husband MORE took action against multiple Trump-era orders on Friday, but the department said she did not reinstate a moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands despite revoking a Trump administration move to reverse it.

The Trump-era order, which terminated the Obama administration’s moratorium on new coal leasing, was one of a dozen such Trump-era moves that Haaland rescinded.

Other orders revoked by Haaland on Friday aimed to speed up energy permitting and start developing a five-year offshore oil and gas leasing program.

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Haaland also took aim at the former administration’s rollback to environmental reviews in the permitting process.

“I’m hopeful that these steps will help make clear that we, as a Department, have a mandate to act,” the leader of the Interior department said in a statement.

Despite the revocation of the Trump-era order on coal, a department spokesperson, however, denied that the coal move reinstates the Obama era leasing ban. The official said the announcement doesn’t immediately take action on coal development, and that the agency is continuing to review a path forward.

The spokesperson declined to answer additional questions. 

Sharon Buccino, the senior director of the land division at the Natural Resources Defense Council’s nature program, said the Obama pause has not been reinstated because of the specific language of the 2016 order that says it is effective until “its provisions are amended, superseded, or revoked.”

She argued that when the policy was revoked under then-President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools Overnight Defense: Administration says ‘low to moderate confidence’ Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | ‘Low to medium risk’ of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he MORE, it died. 

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“It was in fact revoked by Trump, so that basically terminates what Obama did,” Buccino said. 

“What Secretary Haaland has done is, she’s rescinded what Trump did and so that clearly paves the way for giving greater scrutiny to new coal leasing, but the Obama moratorium isn’t live anymore … there’s nothing left to reinstate because of that language,” she added. 

Even though the administration says it has not paused leasing federal land for coal mining, it has put a temporary pause on new leasing for oil and gas drilling. 

In addition to the moves from Haaland, Interior’s Principal Deputy Solicitor Robert Anderson revoked a Trump administration opinion from January that would have required the department to hold at least two offshore drilling lease sales. 

-Updated 6:35 p.m.