Bookmark and Share

More press releases

For Immediate Release, March 17, 2009

Contact: Amy Atwood, (541) 914-8372,

Center for Biological Diversity Statement on Interior Secretary Salazar's Senate Testimony Calling for New Coal Development on Public Lands

WASHINGTON, D.C.— In testimony before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today stated the administration’s intent to continue new coal development on federal public lands. Coal development destroys public lands, and its subsequent combustion is a leading source of greenhouse gas emissions and resulting climate disruption.

“Today, the administration decided to sanction rather than phase out our nation’s continued, destructive dependency on coal,” said Amy Atwood, senior attorney and public lands energy director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “This policy choice will hasten dangerous climate disruption and forestall the transition to clean energy sources that we must begin right away.”

Leading climate scientists like James Hansen have called for a phase-out of coal this decade, stating that ending our reliance on coal is necessary in order to avoid dangerous tipping points and potentially catastrophic climate change. Global warming is already harming water resources in the arid western United States. Coal development consumes vast quantities of these diminishing water resources and degrades air and water quality, polluting ecosystems, species, and human communities as well.

The Center for Biological Diversity is dedicated to ensuring that atmospheric CO2 pollutant levels are reduced to below 350 ppm, which leading climate scientists warn is necessary to prevent devastating climate change. Further development of greenhouse gas-intensive energy sources – including coal, oil shale, and tar sands – is fundamentally incompatible with achieving this goal. If greenhouse gas emissions are not immediately reduced, the current atmospheric CO2 level of 385 ppm will rise to approximately 500 ppm by mid-century, triggering mass wildlife extinctions, catastrophic global weather and ecosystem changes, and tragic human suffering.

Go back