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BLM rule on coal leasing in the Powder River basin won't have much of an impact in North Dakota

Officials with the Lignite Energy Council says a new Bureau of Land Management decision to end federal leasing of Powder River Basin coal in Wyoming and Montana won’t have a direct effect here in North Dakota.

That’s because of the ownership of the coal.

"There's so much federal land in Wyoming and Montana — national forests, BLM lands, those types of things," said Lignite Council President and CEO Jason Bohrer. "The federal government owns the coal."

Bohrer said in North Dakota, the state doesn't have the massive federal ownership of coal.

"For the most part, in North Dakota, it is a combination of private and state ownership," Bohrer said. "The smallest proportion is federal."

Still, Bohrer said seeing a federal coal leasing ban is frustrating.

"We have a track record of improvement, and solving the challenges we're being faced with," Bohrer said. "We're on the cusp of demonstrating carbon capture technology. Once that is demonstrated, why would there be a reason to not mine additional coal?"

Bohrer said if you take care of what thgey're telling us the problem is — which is CO2 emissions — then there should be no objection to additional coal mining.

"It really doesn't make sense," Bohrer said. He also said this ruling comes at a critical time for the power grid, and the growing demand for reliable electricity.

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