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U.S. halts new coal leases on federal land in wide-ranging review

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Friday ordered a pause on issuing new coal leases on federal land in another step by the Obama administration to control climate change in the first major review of the country's coal program ...

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Friday ordered a pause on issuing new coal leases on federal land in another step by the Obama administration to control climate change in the first major review of the country's coal program in three decades.

The pause could last three years, Jewell said, while officials determine how to protect taxpayers' stake in coal sales from public lands and how burning coal could worsen climate change.

Federal land accounts for over 40 percent of U.S. coal production.

Jewell said the pause is unlikely to have an impact on current coal production and will not affect current leases.

"We have plenty of coal," Jewell told reporters Friday.

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Dan Utech, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change, said the rationale for the pause is "to make sure we are getting a fair return for taxpayers."

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