On August 3, 2017, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed to lower by 37.5% the royalty paid for certain coal produced from Arch Coal’s West Elk mine, located in Gunnison County. Fair royalties for coal mined on public lands help ensure that taxpayers and local communities are receiving a fair return on this publicly held resource. BLM’s proposal would cut by millions of dollars Arch’s payments that are divided among federal treasuries, state treasuries, and Gunnison County, while effectively subsidizing one of Arch’s most profitable mines.
BLM is seeking input from Gov. Hickenlooper on this proposal, who has until September 2 to respond. High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA) is calling on all of our members and supporters to contact Gov. Hickenlooper’s office and ask that he oppose BLM’s proposal to grant a royalty rate reduction at the West Elk mine.
Why should Gov. Hickenlooper oppose the rate reduction?
- First, BLM’s royalty rate review process has not been transparent. BLM has failed to provide the public with key information that would justify a rate reduction.
- Second, the proposal appears to ask Colorado and federal taxpayers to surrender over $10 million in royalty payments to “promote” mining that has already occurred. Arch has continued to mine the leases at issue for over two and a half years without the requested royalty relief, with no apparent impacts to West Elk’s mine plan.
- Third, while Arch is seeking to pay fewer royalties to federal, state and local taxpayers, it has paid its executives extravagantly. This includes paying $8 million in bonuses in January 2016 to its management team. Also in 2016, Arch Coal’s CEO received a compensation package of nearly $13 million, more than the entire value of the expected royalty rate reduction over the five-year period.
- Fourth, Colorado should not subsidize the state’s largest methane polluter. The West Elk mine is the single largest industrial source of methane pollution in Colorado, and supporting this royalty reduction would undermine much of Gov. Hickenlooper’s leadership on addressing climate change.
HCCA urges you to contact Gov. Hickenlooper’s office and ask him oppose BLM’s proposal to grant a royalty rate reduction at the West Elk mine. You can do this by calling the Constituent Services Line at (303) 866-2471, or by sharing your comments with the governor online by clicking HERE.