SAN FRANCISCO, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Attorney General (AG) Bob Ferguson of the U.S. state of Washington on Sunday hailed a legal victory against the federal government over its decision of rolling back critical environmental protections.
Ferguson said in a statement issued by his office that a federal judge in Montana, a landlocked state in the northwestern United States, has declared illegal an effort by U.S. President Donald Trump's government to revoke an Obama-era moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands for coal mining.
"It's fitting that on the eve of Earth Day, another federal judge slaps down the Trump Administration's illegal effort to roll back basic environmental protections," Ferguson said of the judge's ruling issued one day before Earth Day, which falls on April 22.
"This ruling sends a clear message that the federal government cannot take an action that impacts our environment without careful review and deliberation," he added.
Ferguson sued the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management in 2017 over a program to lease coal mining rights on public land, which significantly increased coal-train traffic through the state.
Under the leasing rights, coal would be shipped by rail across Washington, and diesel exhaust and coal dust from uncovered coal train cars could negatively affect air quality, according to Ferguson's office.
Increased coal production and consumption would cause climate change, which led to rising ambient temperatures, ocean warming and acidification, it said, adding that such bad effects harm Washington's shell-fishery.
Ferguson's lawsuit was jointly filed by attorneys general from states of California, New Mexico, New York and Washington.