March 24, 2011 - Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, this week, announced that the Bureau of Land Management would lease public land containing as much as 758 millions of tons of coal. According to the Department of Interior, the four tracts of land put up for lease sales are the first among more than a dozen lease sales that will Department of Interior plans in the next three years. All the tracts proposed to be leased by the Bureau of Land Management contain more than 2.35 billion tons of coal; which threatens to release more immense amounts of air pollution including 3.9 billion tons of pollution that contributes to global warming.
"Teddy Roosevelt would be rolling in his grave," said Rob Sargent, Energy Program Director for Environment America. "Opening up our public lands to the mining of highly polluting coal is at odds with the notion of environmental stewardship and casts doubts on the Obama Administration's commitment to reduce the pollution that contributes to global warming."
The Department of Interior has recently announced a number of initiatives designed to promote environmentally sound, clean renewable energy projects. They are currently seeking public comments on policies that will promote the development of renewable energy on BLM lands and off our coasts. Their so-called "smart from the start" initiatives, would allow for large amounts of renewable energy development, but ensure that the development is done in a manner that is consistent with important environmental considerations.
"We are very supportive of the thoughtful development of renewable energy on public lands and off our coasts, if done in a manner that is consistent with our nation's environmental and clean energy goals. But, these leases for coal development cast serious doubt on the Department of Interior's role of guardian of America's natural heritage and is a major setback to our nation's progress on clean energy," said Sargent.
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