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US proposes ending new federal leases in nation’s biggest coal region

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Biden administration on Thursday proposed an end to new coal leasing from federal reserves in the most productive coal mining region in the U.S. as officials seek to limit climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions from burning the fuel.

The Bureau of Land Management proposal would affect millions of acres (millions of hectares) of federal lands and underground mineral reserves in the Powder River Basin area of Wyoming and Montana.

The immediate impact is likely to be limited because coal leases take many years to develop and demand has flagged in recent years. But the proposal drew a harsh pushback from Republicans in Congress, coming just weeks after President Joe Biden’s Democratic administration unveiled an air quality rule that could force many coal-fired power plants to reduce their pollution or shut down.

Thursday’s proposal was made in response to a 2022 court order that said two federal land management plans drafted for the Powder River Basin during former President Donald Trump’s administration had failed to adequately take into account climate change and public health problems caused by burning coal.

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