A group of US Senators has requested that the Obama administration amend the federal coal mine programme to cut CO2 emissions.

In the letter sent to US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Senators Maria Cantwell, Al Franken, Martin Heinrich, Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley, Patty Murray, Elizabeth Warren and Sheldon Whitehouse urged the Interior Department to reduce carbon emissions from coal that is publicly owned and also to ensure a fair return to taxpayers.

The senators requested the administration come up with a new plan that would cut the negative impacts of federal coal.

Furthermore, the department was asked to begin to address the impact of federal coal on climate change by using existing authority under the Mineral Leasing Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

Maria Cantwell said: "Taxpayers deserve a fair return on the sale of resources that they own, but the current programme is broken.

"The Interior Department must eliminate loopholes and better account for carbon pollution."

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Heinrich said: "Our federal coal programme isn’t accounting for the full cost of coal mined from public lands.

"The Interior Department must eliminate loopholes and better account for carbon pollution."

"Communities across New Mexico and future generations will bear the consequences of extreme weather changes and public health challenges if we don’t lead by example to reduce carbon pollution from burning coal."

According to Markey, recent nonpartisan investigations into the programme have revealed that companies are allowed to mine the federal coal at cut prices.

Markey said: "As world leaders prepare to meet in Paris to forge the next international climate agreement, we need to make sure that we are not subsidising coal companies to mine this coal and export increasing quantities of it abroad, where it will be burned to worsen climate change."

According to a recent estimate, federal coal is responsible for 14% of all energy-related US carbon pollution.

Image: Senators urged the Interior Department to begin looking at the impact of federal coal on climate change. Photo: courtesy of SOMMAI/