The Obama administration is preparing to announce as soon as Friday an overhaul of how the nation manages coal development on federal land, according to government and conservationist sources, in a further move to confront climate change.
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Barack Obama said he would "change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet."
"We're working to have this tomorrow," said a Bureau of Land Management official who declined to give details on the administration's plans.
Environmentalists have urged the White House to freeze new coal leases on federal land until it accounts for how that fossil fuel development contributes to climate change.
Last summer, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell held listening sessions in western states, calling for "an honest and open conversation about modernizing the federal government's coal program," including what return taxpayers get from fuel sales.
The Energy Information Administration says roughly 41 percent of U.S. coal production occurs on federal land, and environmentalists have argued strongly against permitting more mining there.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici and Patrick Rucker; Editing by Eric Beech and Lisa Shumaker)