CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Diminished domestic demand has produced a virtual moratorium on federal coal sales in Wyoming's Powder River Basin. No federal reserves in the basin have sold since June 2012, and none is expected to sell until at least 2015. That's partly because the massive, open-pit mines generally have enough reserves to last some years, but also because coal companies aren't making long-term investments to buy more.
National Mining Association spokesman Luke Popovich says companies appear to be holding out for a solid, sustained resurgence in global demand. Last April, 21 environmental groups asked Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to impose a moratorium on new federal coal leasing in the basin. They cited greenhouse emissions as well as reports on shortcomings in U.S. Bureau of Land Management coal leasing practices that have cost the government more than $200 million.