Attorney General Bonta Asks Bureau of Land Management to Examine Climate and Environmental Justice Impacts of Federal Coal Leasing Program | State of California – Department of Justice

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today led a multi-state coalition in urging the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to consider the full social and environmental costs of the federal coal program when making decisions about whether, and to what extent, to continue leasing coal. The last comprehensive environmental review of the federal coal program was completed in 1979, when federal government policy was to increase reliance on coal and climate change was not yet fully understood. In 2016, the Obama administration imposed a moratorium on coal leases while launching a comprehensive environmental review of the program. However, after taking office, the Trump administration ended this review and relaunched the program. In today’s comments, the coalition argues – as it has in its ongoing litigation – that BLM needs to conduct a comprehensive environmental review that takes into account the climate and environmental justice impacts of the federal agenda. coal rental.

“The decisions we make about the climate today will have repercussions for generations”, said Attorney General Bonta. “Already, the realities of the climate crisis are impossible to ignore. We see it every time we face a wildfire or a “once in a generation” drought – and we see it every day in the millions of Californians who suffer the brunt of environmental pollution and suffer the consequences. for the resulting health. Today, I urge the Bureau of Land Management to fully consider the environmental, human and economic costs of the federal coal rental program – and to make decisions accordingly.

In today’s comments, the California-led coalition argues that BLM must fully consider the significant climate and environmental justice impacts of the federal coal rental program:

Climate change: Federal coal production, transportation, and consumption are estimated to account for about 11% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. As the West battles record-breaking wildfires, unprecedented drought and extreme heat, BLM must consider the heavy toll of climate change on the state’s economy, people and natural resources. In 2020 alone, there were 22 weather events that each cost the economy at least $ 1 billion, the most recorded since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began tracking the cost of these disasters. The average number of billion dollar events since 1980 is seven; the average number since 2015 is more than double to 15.1. While states like California have long been at the forefront of the fight against climate change, state programs alone are not enough. Reducing coal consumption is one of the weaker fruits of state – and federal – efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmental justice: All communities should be able to breathe clean air, drink clean water and live in a safe and healthy environment. Too often, however, low-income communities, communities of color, and tribal and indigenous communities are denied all three. In California, millions of tons of coal are transported each year in open railcars to the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Stockton and Richmond – through and into communities already disproportionately affected by environmental pollution and suffering from the resulting health consequences. While there are many environmental impacts of the federal coal rental program to address – including impacts on water quality, air quality, and wildlife – the coalition specifically urges BLM to be considered. the environmental justice impacts of the transportation, storage and export of federal coal. For example, particulate emissions from the storage and handling of coal can cause or contribute to a wide variety of serious health problems, including asthma, bronchitis, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Attorney General Bonta is joined by the Attorneys General of New Mexico, New York and Washington.

A copy of the comment letter can be found here.