Obama administration set to announce US coal programme overhaul

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration on Friday said it would announce the next steps in its planned overhaul of how the United States manages coal development on federal land, which sources have said includes freezing new leases.

US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and other federal officials will "discuss next steps in the Obama Administration's efforts to strengthen and modernize the federal coal programme" at a 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT) news conference, the Interior Department said in a statement.

The department did not provide any details about the efforts, but government and conservationist sources have said the administration will freeze new coal mining in a further move to confront climate change.

The United States needs to "change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet," US President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Sources familiar with the effort have said it would require federal officials to consider how burning coal could worsen climate change when weighing land use decisions.

It will also include a moratorium on coal leases and try to maximise returns for taxpayers by updating royalty rates when mining companies pull the mineral from federal land, the sources said.