August 8, 2017 - The Trump administration is encouraging more coal mining on lands owned by the federal government, as part of an aggressive push to both invigorate the struggling American coal industry and more broadly exploit commercial opportunities on public lands.
The development has caused a stir amongst conservationists and many Democrats as how should the 643 million acres of federally owned land be best utilized or managed.
Companies and individuals with economic interests in the lands and mining companies used to have had a strong upper hand on such things before the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion during the Reagan administration.
Concerns have been raised by some over encouraging more coal mining on lands owned by the federal government as they say it would have an adverse impact on the reservoirs.
"If we don't have good water, we can't do anything," The New York Times quoted Art Hayes, a cattle rancher, as saying while expressing concerns worries that more mining would foul a supply that generations of ranchers have relied upon.
The U.S. Interior Department during the Obama administration had temporarily banned new coal leases on public lands as it examined the consequences for the environment on the issue of climate change.
Major mining companies in the U.S. protested against the Obama administration decision ordering them to pay higher royalties to the government.
However, President Trump has moved quickly to end those measures with the support of coal companies and other commercial interests.
According to the report, Trump's Interior Department is also drawing plans to reduce wilderness and historic areas that are now protected as national monuments, creating even more opportunities for profit.
Richard Reavey, the head of government relations for Cloud Peak Energy said that Trump's changes in the measures related to mining industry were meant to correct wrongs of the past.
Trump administration is also planning to subsidize the financial costs for coal mining on federal lands.
Late last week, the administration had filed a repeal of an Obama-era measure designed to increase mineral royalties on federal lands.
In 2016, US coal mining declined to 728.2 million short tons, down 37 percent from the peak production of 1,162,7 million tons in 2006.
In 2015, 896.9 million short tons of coal were mined in the United States, with an average price of USD 31.83 per short ton, worth USD 28.6 billion dollars.