Report finds BLM coal policy out of date

Allison Roberts News

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: L.J. Turner, (307) 939-1393; Steve Charter, (406) 947-2151; Shannon Anderson, (307) 672-5809, Powder River staff; Larry Winslow, Northern Plains staff, (406) 248-1154; and Kevin Dowling, WORC staff, (406) 252-9672.

Report finds BLM coal policy out of date
Coal export market analysis is generic and superficial
Coal leasing program lacks oversight and transparency

Billings, Mont. – In response to the publication today of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of the federal coal management program, the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) and Powder River Basin Resource Council (PRBRC) have issued a joint statement. The Northern Plains Resource Council has released a separate statement.

The report identifies a number of major problems with the federal coal leasing program:

  • Competition for coal leases is still lacking.
  • The Department of Interior lacks rigor and oversight in determining the fair market value of federal coal leases.
  • Interior is not fully considering the potential of coal exports despite market changes.
  • Interior is providing limited information to the public.

Joint statement by WORC and PRBRC

“The system is broken and until it gets fixed, taxpayers are going to be cheated again and again out of millions of dollars,” said L.J. Turner, a Wyoming rancher and member of the Powder River Basin Resource Council and Western Organization of Resource Councils who grazes cattle near the largest coal mines in area.

“The Interior Department has an obligation to the American people to make sure they’re getting fair value for this coal. Secretary Jewell should halt leasing any additional coal until the DOI can be more transparent and open in their process and ensure that taxpayers are not getting cheated anymore.”

Statement by the Northern Plains Resource Council

“Revenue from federal coal is critical for rural communities coping with impacts from large energy projects. Giving away coal cheaply undercuts our local communities,” said Steve Charter, Northern Plains Chair and life-long Montana rancher in an area where new mining and related industrialization could disrupt the agricultural economy and jeopardize ranching operations.

Northern Plains and WORC are part of POWER PAST COAL. POWER PAST COAL is an ever-growing alliance of health groups, businesses and environmental, clean-energy, faith and community organizations working to stop coal export off the West Coast.