Biden Says No More in Controversial Decisions

( – President Joe Biden’s administration is planning to cease all new coal leasing in the Powder River Basin, the country’s largest producing coal region that spans 120 miles from east to west and 200 miles from north to south across northeast Wyoming and southeast Montana.

The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced the move following a lawsuit by environmental organizations. Protest to the move is expected from the coal industry and states rich in the fossil fuel. The BLM’s field office in Buffalo, Wyoming, ruled that human health and the environment would be significantly impacted by new coal leasing due to the burning of coal at power plants.

The decision has been called a victory by environmentalists, who estimated that the halting of coal production in the basin would lock six billion tons of “highly polluting” coal in the ground. Mark Fix, a Northern Plains Resource Council member and rancher in Montana said the plan illustrates the reality of the coal market today in a region where decades of coal have been locked up in leases by coal companies. He noted the difficulties the industry faces in the future in finding buyers due to increasing competition from more affordable energy sources. He stressed the need to focus on investing in transitioning away from coal. Fix argued that the plan would protect taxpayers from “lowball leases” being used to squander publicly-owned resources on propping up an “industry in decline.”

Republican Wyoming Senator John Barrasso accused Biden of “waging war” on the state’s families and coal communities. He warned the move would kill jobs and see the state lose funds that could be invested in public services.

After receiving criticism for trying to appear environmentally focused while keeping the fossil fuel industry happy, Biden had taken more action to combat global warming than any other administration in the country’s history by Spring 2024. In March, the Biden administration unveiled measures to phase out internal combustion engines and ensure that most cars sold are electric or hybrid vehicles by 2032. Not everyone is happy with the president’s moves, though.

In 2023, almost 4,000 auto dealers wrote to the president pleading with him to approach the transition to electric vehicles more slowly, noting that the demand for new electric cars has stalled. In March 2024, the fishing industry criticized the Biden administration’s plans for a 2-million-acre offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Maine. The New England Fishermen’s Stewardship Association stressed the damage the industry does to both the fishing economy and marine biology.

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