Travis McNiven (center), who serves on U.S. Sen. John Barrasso's policy staff was among hundreds of people who attended a Friends of Coal rally this week in Casper. Thousands of people who rely on coal mining are impacted by layoffs as three of the nation's largest coal producers reorganize under bankruptcy and face the prospect of a prolonged downturn in the industry. (Tim Kupsick/WyoFile)

The spectre of coal’s cracking foundation in Wyoming brought hundreds of miners and community leaders to Casper this week to testify before federal officials about the future of the federal coal leasing program. Friends of Coal held a rally just before the Department of the Interior’s public meeting, where speakers railed against what they see as a political agenda to kill the U.S. coal industry with unnecessarily burdensome regulations. The Interior announced in January a moratorium on future coal leasing while it conducts a 3-year review of the program, which may incorporate considerations for coal’s climate impact in future federal actions. Nearly 500 coal mining jobs in Wyoming have been cut so far this year as three coal producers reorganize under bankruptcy.

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