Press release – GAO report finds BLM coal policy out of date, Feb. 4, 2014

February 4, 2014

Categories: Coal, Legislature, News, Northern Plains Resource Council

Link to GAO rep0rt>>

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 Northern Plains Resource Council have released a 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.

Statement by 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 lifelong Montana rancher in an area where new mining and related industrialization could disrupt the agricultural economy and jeopardize ranching operations.

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, said, “The system is broken and until it gets fixed, taxpayers are going to be cheated again and again out of millions of dollars.”

“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.”

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