Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Calls for High-Level Review of the Federal Coal Program
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Calls for High-Level Review of the Federal Coal Program

Washington, D.C. — A new report released today by the Center for American Progress recommends that the Obama administration appoint a presidential task force or commission to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the federal coal program, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, or BLM.

The federal coal program supplies approximately 40 percent of the nation’s coal, but accounts for 13 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas, or GHG, emissions—making it one of the largest contributors of U.S. GHG emissions and to climate change and a threat to the Obama administration’s efforts to reduce carbon pollution.

Also, although the BLM collects more than $1 billion annually in bonus bids and royalty payments from federally mined coal, a number of recent reviews, including investigations by the Government Accountability Office and Department of the Interior’s inspector general, have highlighted that the program is not collecting the full value of this coal and royalties owed to U.S. taxpayers.

“Without meaningful reform in more than 25 years, the federal coal program is being managed for a different era at a huge expense to taxpayers,” said Nidhi Thakar, Deputy Director of the Public Lands Project and author of the report. “Fundamental changes to the federal coal program are needed in order to ensure the administration’s commendable and significant efforts to combat climate change are not undercut and that the United States remains on a path to meeting these aggressive goals.”

The CAP report recommends that the presidential commission or task force explore increasing the royalty rate and minimum bid for surface-mined coal, as well as the point at which the royalty rate is assessed to ensure royalties are paid on the true market value of coal. Other recommendations include recertifying the Powder River Basin and other federal coal production regions in order to re-establish BLM’s control over the program and to account for the social cost of carbon when valuing federal coal.

The CAP report notes that this is not the first time the federal coal program has come under scrutiny. Since its inception in 1920, the federal coal program has undergone three reviews.

Click here to read the report.

For more information, contact Tom Caiazza at [email protected] or 202.481.7141.


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