Matthew Brown/AP/File
A mining dumper truck hauls coal at Cloud Peak Energy's Spring Creek strip mine near Decker, Mont. in 2013. Federal officials disclosed Thursday that they want to enter settlement talks with an environmental group that sued the government over the potential climate change impacts from burning coal mined in Western states.

Feds seeking settlement in coal mining lawsuits

Federal officials want to join settlement talks over an environmental group’s lawsuits on coal mining’s possible climate change effects in Western states.

Federal officials disclosed Thursday that they want to enter settlement talks with an environmental group that sued the government over the potential climate change impacts from burning coal mined in Western states.

Government attorneys have asked judges overseeing the cases to put them on hold until April 1 while negotiations take place, according to court documents and U.S. Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle.

The projects combined involve more than 600 million tons of coal that companies are seeking to mine in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.

Most of the fuel would come from Arch Coal, Inc.'s Black Thunder Mine in eastern Wyoming, one of the largest coal mines in the world. Arch declared bankruptcy earlier this year, but the mine continues to operate.

WildEarth Guardians, the group that sued to overturn federal approval for the projects, has prevailed in similar cases challenging mining projects in Montana and Colorado. As a result, the Interior Department was forced to re-analyze the impacts of mining and burning coal. No mining operations were halted.

"We're not trying to shut everybody down tomorrow, but Interior needs to understand there are some consequences here," said WildEarth Guardians' Jeremy Nichols.

The move to settle the still-pending lawsuits comes after Interior Secretary Sally Jewell last month imposed a moratorium on new sales of taxpayer-owned coal reserves.

There has been longstanding criticism of the government's coal program by some members of Congress. Jewell's Jan. 15 order called for a three-year review to address climate change impacts and determine if taxpayers are getting a fair deal in the sale of public reserves to private companies.

Hornbuckle declined to say if the request for settlement talks in the WildEarth Guardians lawsuits was tied to the moratorium.

Attorneys for the mining companies involved in one of the lawsuits asked U.S. District Judge William Martinez in Colorado to let them intervene in the case so they could participate in settlement discussions.

Besides Arch's Black Thunder, the mines in that case are Cloud Peak Energy's Antelope Mine in Wyoming, Bowie Resources' Bowie No. 2 mine in western Colorado and Peabody Energy's El Segundo Mine in northwestern New Mexico.

Two other lawsuits involve New Mexico's San Juan Mine, which was recently sold to Westmoreland Coal Co. and the Flat Canyon coal lease near Bowie Resources' Skyline Mine in Utah.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Feds seeking settlement in coal mining lawsuits
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today