The Department of the Interior (DOI) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have launched a comprehensive review to identify and evaluate potential reforms to the federal coal program. The review, in the form of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), will take a careful look at issues such as how, when, and where to lease; how to account for the environmental and public health impacts of federal coal production; and how to ensure American taxpayers are earning a fair return for the use of their public resources. A news release announcing a Notice of Intent (NOI) for the PEIS was issued on March 24, 2016.  The NOI can be viewed here.

As part of this process, the public has the opportunity to weigh in on America’s federal coal leasing program, a program that has not been updated since the early 1980s. From the West Elk coal mine in Gunnison County to the massive coal fields of the Powder River Basin, the Obama administration is launching a thorough review of the federal coal leasing program. You can lend your voice and let the DOI and BLM know that we must keep public lands coal in the ground.

Our taxpayer-owned public lands are the source of 40 percent of all coal mined in the United States. But it’s clear the federal coal leasing program is incompatible with our nation’s commitments to address climate change and improve the health of our air and water—and now we have an opportunity to change that. Here are just some of the reasons to keep public lands coal in the ground:

  • Coal is one of the largest sources of climate pollution;
  • Coal executives are exploiting loopholes in our broken guidelines, leaving taxpayers to shoulder their tax burden, to the tune of more than $1 billion a year;
  • Colorado’s $13.2 billion outdoor recreation economy depends on healthy public lands and abundant snowpack;
  • Skyrocketing cleanup costs from pollution;
  • Destroyed landscapes and irreversible impacts to water, wildlife and other resources.

High Country Conservation Advocates encourages you to submit comments to the BLM. The BLM’s review of the federal coal leasing program must evaluate the following actions:

  • Phasing out coal leasing on public lands to protect our climate, environment and public health;
  • Accounting for the financial, environmental and health costs of climate pollution caused by federal coal mining and combustion;
  • Requiring coal producers at existing mines to pay royalties on coal production that reflect all of coal’s costs;
  • Eliminating the practice of “self-bonding” where it allows financially insecure coal companies to escape their obligations to reclaim public lands damaged by coal mining;
  • Creating opportunities to help ensure a fair transition to a clean energy economy, including robust investment in community economic development and protecting worker livelihoods.

Tell the agency it’s time to keep coal in the ground and make sure that uses of our public lands reflect what’s best for our climate and communities. Email your comments to BLM_WO_Coal_Program_PEIS_Comments@blm.gov by July 28th.