BLM reconsiders new Oxbow coal lease

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management wants to withdraw its approval of a 786-acre coal lease for Oxbow Mining near Somerset so it can respond to concerns raised by environmental groups in an appeal.

“BLM no longer endorses the Decision and therefore requests a remand in order to withdraw it,” the agency said in its request to the Interior Board of Land Appeals.

WildEarth Guardians and the Sierra Club have challenged the lease approval because of concerns about climate-change and air-quality impacts. They want the agency to require that companies capture and sell methane released during mining, rather than venting it. Methane is considered a potent greenhouse gas.

BLM spokesman Steven Hall said a lawsuit is likely no matter what the agency decides, and it wants to look at whether it can strengthen its environmental assessment to address those concerns and ensure that it has a legally defensible document.


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