Wyoming to expand coal mining on federal lands

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U.S. Interior Department has announced plans to sell mining leases for federal lands in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin holding about 750 million tons of coal.

“Coal is a critical component of America’s comprehensive energy portfolio as well as Wyoming’s economy,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in an announcement last month with Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead.

Interior said the total bonus bids and royalty payments over the life of the leases are estimated to generate $13.4 billion to $21.3 billion, 49 percent of which would go to the state of Wyoming.

But the Interior Department’s estimate of the economic benefits “was off by a factor of 10” and would more likely produce a total of approximately $2 billion, Marion Loomis, executive director of the Wyoming Mining Association told the Billings (Mont.) Gazette newspaper.

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