Citizens call for a fair share from coal mining on American lands

In conjunction with the end of a public comment on potential reforms to the federal coal program, WORC today released a tally of the number of Americans who recently spoke up in favor of much-needed reforms to the Department of the Interior’s federal coal program.

In total, concerned citizens submitted over 90,000 written comments in support of changes to the federal coal program, while approximately 177 speakers showed up to the Interior Department’s five listening sessions across the West and in Washington, D.C., to speak in favor of reforms that ensure Americans get a fair share from coal mining on their lands.

Nearly two-thirds of the speakers at the five listening sessions were in favor of reforms.

Montana rancher calls for stronger ‘Stream Protection Rule’

Ellen L. Pfister, a cattle rancher from north of Shepherd, Mont., and member of the WORC and the Northern Plains Resource Council, spoke September 1 in favor of a more robust stream protection rule that protects Western landowners and water. Pfister testified at the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) hearing on the draft rule and submitted detailed written comments to the federal agency.

WORC to appeal decision on coal lease program

A federal court in Washington, D.C. today dismissed litigation brought against the Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) by Friends of the Earth and the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) to require the BLM to conduct a supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on the federal coal leasing program. The litigation is supported by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

“Ultimately, we believe that the administration’s resistance to comprehensively assess the programmatic environmental impact of the federal coal leasing program endangers the health of our local communities, fails to meet the goals of the U.S. Climate Action Plan, and is a raw deal for taxpayers,” said Bob LeResche, Chair of WORC.

WORC applauds new EPA methane pollution standards

On August 18, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the first federal rule to regulate methane emissions from oil and natural gas production. In the western United States methane is often intentionally flared or vented in oil-rich formations in the Bakken and Niobrara shale on private, federal, and tribal land.

A toxic pollutant, methane contributes to smog, adversely impacts public health, and is widely reported to be one of the leading causes of climate change.

WORC & member groups urge Senate to reject COOL repeal

A coalition of 142 rancher, farmer, rural, consumer, manufacturer, labor, faith and environmental groups from across the United States delivered a letter urging the Senate to reject both the effort to repeal the country of origin labeling (COOL) law and the so-called compromise to convert COOL into a voluntary labeling program for beef, pork and chicken.

Congress enacted COOL for beef, pork, chicken, goat, lamb, seafood and fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables in the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills and expanded COOL to cover venison in the 2014 Farm Bill. Consumers overwhelmingly support these labels.

Rather than bow to pressure from the meatpacker lobby, the letter urges the Senate “to defend consumers’ right to know where their food comes from and the ability of farmers and ranchers to proudly identify their livestock as born and raised in America.

WORC welcomes Fort Berthold POWER


On June 26, the Dakota Resource Council's newest affiliate, the Fort Berthold Protectors of Our Water & Earth Rights (POWER), held a kickoff meeting. The group formed to protect the land, air, and water from the rapid development of oil and gas drilling on the Fort Berthold Reservation in western North Dakota. The WORC network has grown to 40 local groups.

Protests filed on land use plan

WORC joined with the Powder River Basin Resource Council and the Northern Plains Resource Council to protest proposed land use plans for the Bureau of Land Management’s Buffalo, Wyo., and Miles City, Mont. field offices.

Together, the RMPs would allow companies to apply for coal leases on 6.3 million acres overlying 78.5 billion tons of federal coal. While not all of that coal would be leased and mined, the BLM estimates that over the course of the plans companies looking to expand and start mining operations will likely apply for 10-13 billion tons of coal.

New radio special examines coal

WORC’s radio project, High Plains News, just released a new special program, MOVING ON, BUT NO WAY GONE: Coal in America.

In this sound-rich, half-hour special from High Plains News - produced in association with Mountain West Voices, West Virginia Public Radio and Allegheny Front - we look at the present and future of coal in America.

You can listen to the program here.

Voices from the Bakken - Fighting Back

A snapshot of residents defending their water, land, communities, and families from the harmful effects of booming oil drilling in the Bakken region of northwest North Dakota.

Hydraulic Fracturing Photos

John Fenton and his
neigbors deal with the impacts of gas
drilling and hydraulic fracturing daily.
Click on Learn More to
view photographs.
Who's Your Farmer?

Powder River member Audrey Malan gives thanks for local food and local producers in a High Plains News radio commentary.


Member Group News

Referral signatures delivered – Dakota Resource Council and North Dakota Farmers Union submit petition for a referendum to end corporate farming exemptions. (The Bismarck Tribune, June 16, 2015)

Cook: The Buffalo Plan and the threat of climate chaos - Commentary questions sale of 10 billion tons of federal coal in light of President Barack Obama’s order to cut greenhouse gas emissions. (Casper Star-Tribune, June 13, 2015)

Many voice opposition to Tongue River Railroad - People line up to oppose Tongue River Railroad during a “people’s hearing” in Billings. (The Billings Gazette, June 3, 2015)

More Member Group News


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