A federal judge on Friday revived a nationwide Obama-era ban on new coal leases that was tossed during the Trump administration, saying a thorough environmental assessment is needed before the moratorium can be lifted.
In 2019 as a result of a lawsuit by the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity and others, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris found any lifting of the coal-leasing ban required a National Environmental Policy Act review.
In April 2021 U.S. Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland overturned the Trump-era reversal but stopped short of reinstating the ban itself.
Environmental groups then asked Judge Morris to weigh in, arguing the administration left the door open for future coal development on federal lands despite their concerns that development could exacerbate the climate crisis.
Morris on Friday agreed with the environmental groups that Haaland's actions weren't enough. He said the ban needed to remain in place to be consistent with his 2019 ruling requiring an environmental review.
"The Haaland order maintains the potential environmental harm that could result from lifting the coal leasing moratorium," Judge Morris said.