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Federal Coal Program Out of Date, Says Public Citizen Energy Program Director

June 22, 2016


Federal Coal Program Out of Date, Says Public Citizen Energy Program Director

Interior Department Holds Meetings on Environmental Impact, Taxpayer Fairness of Federal Coal Program; Tyson Slocum to Testify in Colorado

WHAT: Testimony at a U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) public meeting on the federal coal program, through which companies lease land from the government and mine the coal from that land. In January, the DOI placed a moratorium on new coal leasing of federal land until a full review of the program is completed. This meeting, as part of a series of six across the U.S., will look at the environmental issues of the federal coal program and at whether taxpayers are getting a fair return.

Much of the coal mining on federally leased lands is in the West, specifically, the Powder River Basin, which runs from Montana to Wyoming. Forty percent of U.S. coal production comes from federal lands, with 87 percent of that mined in the Powder River Basin.

Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, will explain that a comprehensive review of the nation’s coal leasing program has not been done in 40 years, and much about the coal market and climate have changed during those decades. Slocum will testify that:

  • Taxpayer liabilities associated with the coal leasing program are expanding;
  • Coal companies are dodging their royalty payment responsibilities;
  • The royalty rate does not always reflect the true cost to taxpayers of the use of coal to produce power;
  • The poor financial health of the coal industry could lead to a lack of money to clean up mines that shut;
  • The coal industry’s financial future is precarious, so resources must be dedicated to affected communities to help people find new jobs; and
  • Climate change demands that the market price of coal reflects all its costs to society and the climate.

WHO: Tyson Slocum, director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program

WHEN: 10 a.m.–4 p.m. MDT, Thursday, June 23

WHERE: Two Rivers Convention Center’s Avalon Theatre, 645 Main St., Grand Junction, Colo.