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FARMINGTON – The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will hold six public input meetings over the agency's federal coal program starting next month.

The BLM is currently reviewing its federal coal program following the March 30 publication of a Notice of Intent to begin a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, or PEIS, and begin a series of six public "scoping" meetings this spring.

BLM Director Neil Kornze said in a press release the federal agency is eager to hear from the public.

"As we begin this review, we are looking forward to hearing from the public about a wide range of issues about the federal coal program," Kornze said. "The information we gather will help shape future decisions about this public resource."

Kornze and the BLM are interested in learning whether "Americans are receiving a fair return for federal coal, how market conditions affect coal, how federal coal affects the environment, and how these and other factors impact coal-dependent communities," according to the release.

In January, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell ordered a review to examine "a broad array of concerns" about the federal coal program. Jewell was prompted by members of Congress, the Government Accountability Office, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Office of Inspector General and outside groups who have raised questions about the government's oversight of coal on public lands.

The public scoping meetings will take place on May 17 in Casper, Wyo.; May 19 in Salt Lake City; May 26 in Knoxville, Tenn.; June 16 in Pittsburg, Pa.; and June 23 in Grand Junction, Colo. A meeting in Seattle, Wash., has not been scheduled.

The meetings in Casper, Seattle and Pittsburgh will be live-streamed at www.blm.gov/live, and all six meetings will have a listen-only audio link via telephone, according to the release.

The BLM will accept written comments until July 23. Those comments may be sent in an email to BLM_WO_Coal_Program_PEIS_Comments@blm.gov or to Coal Programmatic EIS Scoping, the BLM, 20 M St. SE, Room 2134 LM, Washington, D.C. 20003.

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