FILE - In this March 28, 2017 file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy's Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. A judge has ruled U.S. government officials engaged in regional-level planning must consider allowing less coal to be mined as a way to fight climate change. Friday, March 23, 2018 ruling by U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Great Falls, Montana, applies to the country’s top coal-producing region, the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana. (AP Photo/Mead Gruver, File)
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — U.S. government officials who engage in regional planning for an area of Wyoming and Montana that supplies 40 percent of the nation's coal must consider reducing coal mining as a way to fight climate change, a judge has ruled.
Friday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Great Falls, applies to the Powder River Basin, where house-sized dump trucks haul loads mined around the clock from open-pit coal mines. Some of the mines measure more than a mile wide.
Morris rejected U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials' argument that climate change could be addressed when they consider whether to allow individual mine expansions.
Morris ordered the government and environmental groups to work together on additional planning for the top U.S. coal-producing region. He declined environmentalists' request to halt mining.
Still, environmental groups praised the ruling.
"For decades, the federal government has kept their head in the ...