On Wednesday a U.S. appeals court smacked down a moratorium on coal leasing of federal lands. The decision could lead to more coal sales in the future from publicly owned reserves.

"The ruling from a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is a setback for environmentalists and Democratic officials who worked for years to curtail the federal coal leasing program" commented AP.

Senator John Barrasso has applauded the court's decision to reverse the ban on coal leasing:

“This moratorium not only harmed coal producing communities in Wyoming and throughout the West, but put at risk America’s most reliable and affordable source of electricity. Instead of looking for new excuses to keep American coal resources stranded, President Biden and Secretary Haaland must get to work and move leases forward.”

Coal production has been overall declining since the late 2000s, in part due to an increasing competition from renewables, yet Wyoming remains the most prolific coal-producing state in the nation.

Annually, Wyoming’s coal mines account for almost 40 percent of U.S. coal production. Wyoming’s large surface coal mines are also the most efficient in the nation, with an average recovery factor of 92%.

Still, the future remains uncertain for the industry. In December 19 workers at the Black Butte coal mine east of Rock Springs were layed off, prompting state officials to blame Joe Biden's Administration for not facilitating the mine's expansion.

Governor Gordon then stated, "It is disheartening and disappointing to have the Black Butte Mine lay off employees at any time but this is particularly troubling as we enter the holiday season."

In the last ten years production has dropped from 1.3 billion tons to 870 million in 2022. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. coal mining employment has shurnk by over half.

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