The U.S. Department of the Interior announced Friday it will “pause” on issuing new coal leases on federal lands.
The suspension was ordered while the federal agency reviews the coal lease program “in order to ensure that it is properly structured to provide a fair return to taxpayers and reflect its impacts on the environment, while continuing to help meet our energy needs,” according to press release.
The review is expected to take three years, the agency said.
The move met with immediate criticism from congressional members in Montana and Wyoming.
Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines said the move is an “unprecedented assault on one of Montana’s most important sources of good paying jobs and tax revenue.”
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) released this statement: “There seems to be no limit to the number of job-crushing regulations, executive orders and insults (US Secretary of the Interior Sally) Jewell and President Obama will throw at America’s middle class.”