Interior asked to defend Powder River coal leasing

Cheyenne, Wyo. – Wyoming's congressional delegation and 33 other members of Congress are asking the Interior Department to strongly defend federal coal leasing practices.

U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso and U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, all Wyoming Republicans, are among those who sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Wednesday. The letter says the federal coal leasing program is important to the nation's economy and energy security.

WildEarth Guardians is challenging the coal leasing program and also appealing plans to auction off coal reserves in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana. It contends that Interior isn't adequately analyzing the impacts of coal production on climate change.

Montana Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg also signed the letter.