Halt ordered on Watt plan to lease coal lands . . .

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A federal judge ordered Interior Secretary James Watt Wednesday to halt his plans to lease federal lands for coal mining in the Fort Union area of North Dakota and Montana. The ruling was a victory for two environmental groups - the National Wildlife Federation and the Wilderness Society - and the House Interior Committee.

The environmentalists charged the Fort Union sale is in direct violation of an Aug. 3 resolution of the Interior Committee, which ordered Mr. Watt not to proceed with the leasing. Watt maintained the committee action was unlawful because of the Supreme Court ruling in June that he believes struck down Congress's use of the legislative veto over executive branch agencies.

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