“The Government Should Continue to Opt In, Not Out of the Coal Business”

ACC’s reply to the Bloomberg Editorial Board in response to its opinion piece “The Government Should Get Out of the Coal Business” was not published. We’re sharing it here for our readers.

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“The Government Should Continue to Opt In, Not Out of the Coal Business”

The recent Bloomberg Editorial Board opinion piece, “The Government Should Get Out of the Coal Business” , missed the mark regarding the government’s involvement in the coal business.

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is the steward of coal located on lands owned by the federal government and is responsible for coal leases to mining companies. The return to American taxpayers is far higher than the $3 per acre mentioned. In fact, payments for the privilege of mining coal on federal lands are made in three ways, not just one. The federal coal leasing program is very successful, generating nearly $12 billion over the past ten years according to the BLM.

The program’s proceeds are split between federal and state governments, supporting essential infrastructure and local schools. For many states with major fiscal challenges, reduced tax dollars are already a reality due to the surging number of regulations resulting in decreasing coal production. The prospect of further declines in tax revenues due to changes in the federal coal leasing program is a very serious concern for them.

The Editorial Board’s suggestion to stop issuing new coal leases altogether is unjustified. It resorts to outdated claims about harm from coal use when the facts prove otherwise. Research by consulting firm Energy Ventures Analysis shows that industry invested nearly $111 billion through 2015 in clean coal technologies at power plants. These investments have resulted in dramatic environmental improvements. While coal use in the U.S. more than doubled over the past 45 years, overall emissions of the three primary air pollutants (NOX, SOX, and particulate matter – PM) have now decreased by more than 90%.

Saying “no” to coal and “yes” to natural gas and renewables is equally unwarranted. Every form of electricity generation has a footprint and an impact on the environment.  Recognizing the environmental effects and generation characteristics, whether methane emissions from natural gas plants or the redundancy of generating plants needed to back up renewables, is important to making balanced energy policy choices that better reflect the value of America’s energy resources – including coal.

As it reviews the federal coal leasing program which clearly benefits American taxpayers, the government should continue to opt in, not out.

Betsy Monseu is CEO of the American Coal Council

05. August 2016 by Ingrid Shumate
Categories: Energy, Jobs, Marketplace Information, Mining, Power Generation | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on “The Government Should Continue to Opt In, Not Out of the Coal Business”