By AP/Staff 1-15,2016
The Obama administration says it’s halting new coal leases on federal lands until it completes a comprehensive review. The question is whether fees charged to mining companies provide a fair return to American taxpayers and reflect coal’s impact on the environment.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Friday that companies will continue to be able to mine coal reserves already under lease. Jewell says the coal leasing program has not been significantly changed in more than 30 years. She says it needs to be modernized to ensure a fair return to American taxpayers and to account for climate change.
Roughly 40 percent of the coal produced in the United States comes from federal lands. The vast majority comes from Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.
Jonathan Downing, the executive director of the Wyoming Mining Association, says the moratorium and proposal to raise royalty rates on coal mined on federal land is another attempt to kill the coal industry.
“This is yet another salvo in the President’s efforts to kill the coal industry. He and his allies in the extreme environmental movement know full well that this measure will make federal coal uneconomical to mine, thereby locking up America’s most abundant and reliable source of electricity generation,” Downing said.
Wyoming Senator John Barrasso issued a statement following the decision, saying the President and Department of Interior are at full scale with the coal industry.
“There seems to be no limit to the number of job-crushing regulations, executive orders and insults Secretary Jewell and President Obama will throw at America’s middle class. This administration is in a full-scale war with coal communities and families.
“When rural America says President Obama has contempt for their lives and livelihoods, they mean decisions like today’s announcement. A moratorium on federal coal leasing effectively hands a pink slip to the thousands of people in Wyoming and across the West employed in coal production.
“I’m prepared to act to protect middle-class workers from this latest attempt to turn out the lights on American energy.”
Roughly 40 percent of the coal produced in the United States comes federal lands. Wyoming is the nation’s top coal producer.