U.S. Department of Interior

Editor's Note: In an earlier version of this story Kathleen Sgamma was quoted as saying reducing royalty rates increases revenue for industry and the federal government.  Her point was in fact that reducing regulatory barriers achieves this goal.

On Wednesday, an Interior Department advisory panel will propose changing how the government receives royalties from coal dug up on federal lands. But some critics are calling foul as panel members either come from the energy industry or energy-producing states.

Oil well.

A U.S. District Court judge Thursday ordered the reinstatement of an oil and gas industry regulation that aims to lower harmful methane emissions. Environmental groups say it’s a win for states including Montana.

Turmoil Shakes Up Agency In Charge Of Vast US Lands

Feb 20, 2018
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Nicky Ouellet

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A year of upheaval at the U.S. Interior Department has seen dozens of senior staff members reassigned and key leadership positions left unfilled, rules considered burdensome to industry shelved, and a sweeping reorganization proposed for its 70,000 employees.

The evolving status quo at the agency responsible for more than 780,000 square miles (2 million square kilometers) of public lands, mostly in the American West, has led to praise from energy and mining companies and Republicans, who welcomed the departure from perceived heavy-handed regulation under President Barack Obama.

Yellowstone Park's east entrance.
Diane Renkin-NPS (PD)

Visitors to Yellowstone National Park can now purchase entrance passes online instead of in person. Normally, visitors to the nation’s oldest national park had to pony up cash or a credit card to a ranger if they wanted to get in.

A Coal Mine in the Powder River basin
U.S. Geological Survey

We're getting perspective now on last week's news that the U.S. Interior Department said it had approved a major coal mine expansion in Montana. It caused the stock of the mining company involved to temporarily spike.

Six days later, Interior rescinded its statement, saying no expansion was approved, and the original approval statement was the result of “internal miscommunication.”