The United States government owns 700 million acres of mineral estates, 570 million acres of which is open for coal development. The Mineral Leasing Acts of 1920 and 1947 gave responsibility for these coal mineral estates to the Bureau of Land Management, who are in charge of leasing them to companies for mining. This federal coal system has not been reviewed in more than 30 years.
Taxpayers for Common Sense has been investigating the national coal program to make sure that American taxpayers are being paid what they are owed for the more than one billion tons of coal produced annually in the United States. Their 2013 report highlighted the urgent need for review and overhaul and spurred the Department of the Interior to launch their own multi-year review of the program. Check out TCS’s video and the great work they have been doing to promote transparency and protect American taxpayers.
Wednesday January 25, 2017
6:15 light refreshments
6:30 Short talk by Ken Regelson, followed by discussion
George Reynolds Library
Meeting Room Downstairs
3595 Table Mesa Drive,
Ken Regelson spoke to the Boulder County Chapter of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society (BCRES) on Tuesday Jan 11, 2017 on bringing more renewable energy to Colorado and the role of competition.
A summary of that talk and Ken’s background is here.
Now we want to engage the community in a discussion of how we move forward from here, moving from our current fossil fuel dominated electric mix to a 21st century electric system that:
Is More Competitive
Lowers Carbon and Other Pollution
Reduces Water Waste
Federal law requires that companies reclaim any land that they disturb through development. This law affects all energy and natural resource sectors, including coal mining, oil and gas mining on federal lands, and wind and solar development on federal lands.
Normally, companies are required to provide financial assurances in the form of cash or assets set aside to guarantee that the land can be reclaimed even if the company goes bankrupt. However, Congress allows the coal mining industry to demonstrate financial assurance through self-bonds, which are simply financial promises with no collateral to back them up.
Since 2015, billions of dollars of reclamation self-bonds have been jeopardized by coal company bankruptcies, subjecting taxpayers to the risk of picking up the tab instead.
Furthermore, a new report released yesterday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirmed that the coal mining industry is the only industry in the country that is allowed to self-bond, raising questions about why the coal industry is allowed to play by different rules than other forms of mining and energy production.
The GAO report was requested by several U.S. Senators in the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources including Senator Maria Cantwell from Washington.
“GAO has now confirmed that coal companies are getting a sweet deal at the expense of communities and taxpayers,” Sen. Cantwell said. “It’s time the rules for coal caught up to the rules for other forms of mining and energy production.”
Clean Energy Action has spoken out against self-bonding for years (see here and here), and it is encouraging to hear that the word has spread to Washington!
The solar industry is growing rapidly in the U.S. and becoming increasingly popular among U.S. citizens as an obvious solution for clean, affordable power.
However, Environment America and Frontier Group recently released this report which reveals that at least 17 fossil fuel backed groups and electric utilities are working aggressively to slow the growth of the solar industry by undermining key environmental policies.
This work is well funded and being done largely behind the scenes, making it very dangerous, but hopefully state decision-makers will resist these efforts in favor of progressive legislation which serves the burgeoning solar industry.
“Exercising my ‘reasoned judgment,’ I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.”
–U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken
Last year, 21 youth filed a lawsuit against the federal government for violating the youngest generations’ constitutional right to life, liberty, and property through its part in causing climate change.
The U.S. government and fossil fuel industry moved to dismiss the lawsuit, but on November 10th, 2016 federal judge Ann Aiken denied this motion, affirming that the rights of the youth are at stake and allowing the case to go to trial.
Read more here.