Montana seeks to intervene in multistate lawsuit over Interior Department coal leases

By Mark Iandolo | Jul 5, 2017

HELENA, Mont. (Legal Newsline) — Montana Attorney General Tim Fox announced June 29 that he has filed for intervention on behalf of Montana in a lawsuit filed in federal court against the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The lawsuit was brought forth by New Mexico, California, New York and Washington, as well as multiple environmental groups. They seek to reverse a March secretarial order issued by U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that ended a moratorium on issuing coal mining leases on federal land.

“Secretary Zinke acted within his authority under the law to reverse a discretionary policy of the previous administration, and the lawsuits objecting to the new policy are purely political and ideological in nature,” said Attorney General Tim Fox. “The state of Montana has a significant stake in the continuation of federal coal leases, and is well-positioned to benefit from increased coal mining on our federal lands.”

Montana has roughly 25 percent of the United States’ recoverable reserves of coal. Fox argues that Montana deserves a say in the case as it has a significant stake in the outcome.

“Montana seeks to intervene in this case because it has a significant interest in ensuring that federal coal leasing located within the state continues,” Fox said. “Montana would be grievously harmed if the interest groups and plaintiff states prevail.”

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