Open cut hard rock mining (Kalgoorlie, Western Australia) author Stephen Codrington source Wikimedia

President Obama has just announced a 3 year moratorium on leasing federal land for new coal mines, pending a review of the impact of coal on the global climate...

According to Scientific American;

Obama Halts Federal Coal Leasing Citing Climate Change

The U.S. temporarily halts coal leasing on federal lands to reassess its policy in light of global warming

The Obama administration on Friday brought a temporary halt to new coal mining leases on federal lands while it conducts a three-year review meant to bring coal leasing in line with U.S. climate policy.

The moratorium comes just days after Obama said in his State of the Union Address that he would push to change the way the government manages its oil and coal resources to reflect the costs they impose on both taxpayers and the planet. The moratorium takes place immediately, but does not halt coal mining and production currently underway.

“How do we manage the program that is consistent with our climate change objective? There is no short answer,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said during a news conference. “It is also clear that we need to take into account the science we have now on the environment and climate change.”
About 40 percent of all the coal produced in the U.S. comes from mines on federal public lands, mainly in the West. As of the end of 2014, there were 308 active coal mining leases on more than 464,000 acres of public lands in Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Montana and Colorado, with an additional 10,500 acres in Kentucky, Alabama and West Virginia.

Burning coal and other fossil fuels for electricity is the largest single source of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change, accounting for about 31 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gases.

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Obviously this is a potentially devastating development, for American families who depend on jobs in the US coal mining industry.

However there is another less obvious impact; As a result of failed green energy policies, Europe is becoming increasingly reliant on imports of cheap goal coal from America. If that supply of cheap coal is now threatened, the result might well be an economically damaging spike in already sky high European energy prices.

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

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