Judge: Resumption of US coal sales by Trump needs review

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge says the Trump administration failed to consider the environmental effects of its decision to resume coal sales from federal lands, but stopped short of halting future sales.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Montana on Friday ordered government attorneys to enter negotiations with states and environmental groups that sued to stop the lease sales.

More than 40 percent of U.S. coal is mined from federal lands, primarily in Western states.

The Obama administration imposed a moratorium on most federal coal sales in 2016. The move followed concerns that low royalty rates paid by mining companies were shortchanging taxpayers and that burning the fuel was making climate change worse.

President Donald Trump lifted the moratorium in March 2017 as part of his efforts to revitalize the slumping coal industry.

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