Nearly 40 percent of coal produced in the United States came from leased public land in 2015, and a June White House review highlights the need to reform the federal coal leasing program.
President Obama’s Council on Economic Advisers wrote that the delivered market price of coal and its external environmental costs are not taken into account when establishing the cost to lease federal land to coal companies. A fair market price would “ensure a fair return to the taxpayer.” The report notes that this would decrease production, thereby reducing carbon emissions.
The report is part of a three-year comprehensive review of the program.
Environmental group WildEarth Guardians also filed a complaint with the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement asking to reform self-bonding, a practice that allows coal companies to serve as their own guarantors for some reclamation costs. The comment period on the petition and suggested rule changes closed in July.
— Eliza Laubach