Taking the Public Out of Public Lands: Shifts in Coal-Extraction Policies in the Trump Administration

30 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2018 Last revised: 27 Nov 2018

See all articles by Jessica Owley

Jessica Owley

University of Miami - School of Law

Date Written: August 27, 2018


This essay examines changes in policies regarding coal extraction from the Obama Administration to the Trump Administration. Donald Trump campaigned on promotion of coal and extractive industries, and one of the ways he is trying to help those industries is by increasing the amount of land available for resource extraction. To that end, the Administration (largely through the Department of Interior) is working to remove environmental protection for lands, shortcut environmental review processes, and facilitate the issuance of mining permits and energy leases. When adopting these policies, the Trump Administration sometimes acknowledges that it is working to promote energy extraction businesses, but also often suggests that changing policy efforts are based on a desire to give states more power in controlling natural resources within their borders. In this way, President Trump can argue that he is working to promote his federalist ideals as a mask for his cronyism. Coal leasing on federal lands has been clouded by questionable permitting and royalty schemes for decades. Scrutiny of these practices increased as concerns about climate change increased. In attempting a response to these concerns, the Obama Administration placed a moratorium on issuing coal leases and commenced an environmental review. The Trump Administration quickly changed course, ending the environmental review process and lifting the moratorium. This essay outlines how these policy changes occurred and demonstrates how the new Trumpian approaches clash with federal natural resource laws and responsibilities.

Keywords: Coal, Trump, Natural Resources, Federal Land

Suggested Citation

Owley, Jessica, Taking the Public Out of Public Lands: Shifts in Coal-Extraction Policies in the Trump Administration (August 27, 2018). 13 FIU L. Rev. 35 (2018); University at Buffalo School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2018-005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3227190

Jessica Owley (Contact Author)

University of Miami - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 248087
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States

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