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Editorial: Federal Coal-Lease Reform Is Overdue

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From the Seattle Times:Obama administration’s decision to stop issuing new coal leases as the federal government’s entire coal program is reviewed makes good business sense.The moratorium, announced last month by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, is part of a plan for the Bureau of Land Management to undertake a detailed environmental-impact statement.The business of taking coal off public land has not had a close look in more than three decades. The leasing price is put at about a $1 per ton, with another $1.50 for royalties. Coal buyers pay 20 to 40 times that amount.Meanwhile, the expense to society for the cost of massive carbon emissions can run $70 per ton, paying the growing bill for sea-level rise issues and for health impacts like asthma and environmental effects.The coal industry slid into its economic downturn as once lucrative international markets skittered away from using vast quantities of coal. Natural gas is replacing coal in domestic markets. The subsequent bankruptcies of U.S. coal companies reveals another flaw.Companies have been allowed to self-finance for environmental restoration and cleanup. Now the companies are broke, work remains to be done and promissory notes are virtually worthless. In bankruptcy court, they have a value of 15 cents on the dollar — and get in line to collect it.Playing fast and loose with commodities on public lands goes back to the grazing and mining interests President Teddy Roosevelt went after. The topic is as fresh as the standoff on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.The executive branch has the tools it needs through past legislation, including the Mineral Leasing Act, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.The coal industry has gamed the system for decades. Secretary Jewell has some dutiful members of Congress, including Cantwell and Washington Sen. Patty Murray, expecting a serious review of the environmental impacts and a decent return for the Treasury.Editorial: Lease moratorium: Coal industry was due some lumps Editorial: Federal Coal-Lease Reform Is Overduelast_img read more