A federal judge blocked the expansion of Montana’s largest coal mine on Wednesday, ruling the Interior Department failed to account for the social cost of the carbon pollution that would result from the additional coal extracted. The ruling criticized the Trump administration for “ignor[ing] more accurate scientific information when it is available,” referring to a 2017 executive order directing agencies not to account for the social cost of carbon. The decision could test the Biden administration’s willingness to undo permitting decisions made by the previous administration.
On his first day in office, President Biden directed federal agencies to account for the full damages caused by greenhouse gas pollution to human health and the environment. Advocates applauded the decision and called for accelerated action to reduce coal extraction. “Why are we even talking about expanding even more?” said Derf Johnson, clean water director at the Montana Environmental Information Center, to the Montana Free Press. “We’re at the end of the life cycle with coal, and now we need to talk about what’s next.” (AP, Montana Free Press, Billings Gazette, Bloomberg Law, KTVQ, Reuters)