US Interior Department urged to reform federal coal mine program

US senators have requested the Obama administration to amend the federal coal mine program to include costs of the carbon emissions.

In the letter sent to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, senators Maria Cantwell, Franken, Heinrich, Markey, Merkley, Murray, Warren and Whitehouse urged to reduce carbon emissions from coal that is publicly-owned while ensuring a fair return to taxpayers in the US.

The administration was requested by the senators to come up with a new plan to reduce the negative impacts of federal coal as well as to address the federal coal impact on climate change, using existing authority under the Mineral Leasing Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

Maria Cantwell said: “Taxpayers deserve a fair return on the sale of resources that they own, but the current program is broken.”

“The Interior Department must eliminate loopholes and better account for carbon pollution.”

Markey noted that the recent nonpartisan investigations into the program have revealed that the federal coal is being allowed for mining by companies at bargain basement prices.

“As world leaders prepare to meet in Paris to forge the next international climate agreement, we need to make sure that we are not subsidising coal companies to mine this coal and export increasing quantities of it abroad, where it will be burned to worsen climate change.”

As per a recent estimate, federal coal is responsible for 14% of all energy-related US carbon pollution.

Heinrich said: “Our federal coal program isn’t accounting for the full cost of coal mined from public lands.

“Communities across New Mexico and future generations will bear the consequences of extreme weather changes and public health challenges if we don’t lead by example to reduce carbon pollution from burning coal.”