BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Federal officials say the Trump administration's decision to lift a moratorium on coal sales from public lands could hasten the release of more than 5 billion tons of greenhouse gasses.
But Bureau of Land Management officials said in a report released Wednesday that the emissions would occur regardless of the administration's decision. They also say the huge quantity of greenhouse gases involved represents a small percentage of the nation's total emissions.
The report comes after a court ruled last month that the administration failed to consider the environmental effects of its resumption in 2017 of coal sales. A moratorium had been imposed under President Barack Obama over worries about climate change.
Environmentalists who sued to reinstate the moratorium say it's absurd to argue federal coal sales have negligible effects on climate-changing emissions.