This week, Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell held the first of six meetings to discuss the fate of coal-leasing in the U.S. Shelby DeMars from the pro-coal advocacy group Count on Coal Montana, says the six meetings should be expanded to include places like Montana where coal is actually mined.

"The only [hearing] that's in coal country is in Wyomign," DeMars said. "Then all of the rest of them are, oddly enough, placed in locations like Seattle, which have a strong agenda in trying to shut down Montana coal. It seems like Secretary Jewell has an agenda to stack the comments against Montana coal, which is very disappointing."

DeMars says the final decisions about coal will have a big impact on Montana.

"Montana receives over 15 million dollars biannually in royalty tax revenue, just from federal coal, in addition to income and property taxes all related to that production," DeMars said. "The bottom line here is that coal belongs to all Montanans, and producing it benefits everyone in the state."

At the beginning of May, Secretary Jewell was in Montana, along with Senator Jon Tester. Many Montana officials invited Jewell to visit the coal operation in Coalstrip, but she declined.

The full list of dates and locations for the DOI hearings is below:
May 17, 2016 Casper Events Center
1 Events Center Drive
Casper, WY 82601

May 19, 2016 Salt Palace Convention Center
100 West Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

May 26, 2016 Tennessee Theatre
604 S. Gay St.
Knoxville, TN 37902

June 16, 2016 Pittsburgh Convention Center
1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

June, 2016 Seattle
To be announced

June 23, 2016 Two Rivers Convention Center's Avalon Theatre
645 Main St.
Grand Junction, CO 81501

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