POLITICS

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lifts Obama-era coal moratorium

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Wednesday lifted the Obama-era moratorium on federal coal leases as part of the president's energy independence executive order signed Tuesday.

"Well, it's certainly a signal that the war on coal is over and punitive regulation that was directed specifically against coal we are looking at that," Zinke told reporters on a call. "The president has made it clear that such regulatory policies that had... targeted coal are over."

Zinke also announced the creation of a panel of advisors to examine the efficacy of the federal leasing program and if it is being fair to taxpayers by charging industry enough.

The Obama administration had put the moratorium in place in order to assess leasing rates, and determine if the cost of climate change should be added in assessing lease rates for coal, which the industry said would drive up the cost of mining. Forty percent of the nation's coal comes from mining on federal lands that Zinke's agency oversees.

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