New Report Finds That Only Coal Companies Have the Ability to Self-Bond, Which Harms Mining Communities and Taxpayers Nationwide

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!

Blocking the Sun

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.

blocking-the-sun

Suit Alleging U.S. Government Failed to Protect Future Generations from Climate Change Allowed to Go to Trial

“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.

IEEFA Analysis: The Economic Frailties and Rickety Finances Behind the Dakota Access Pipeline

The Dakota Access Pipeline has been the heart of several controversial issues, including tribal sovereignty and risks to drinking water.  This IEEFA article explains that the project may also be a very high-risk economic investment.

The article concludes that:

“If oil prices remain low, as currently projected, Bakken oil production will continue to decline, and existing pipeline and refinery capacity in the Bakken will be more than adequate to handle the region’s oil production. And if production continues to fall, the Dakota Access Pipeline will become a stranded asset—one rushed to completion largely to protect the favorable contract terms its developers negotiated in 2014.”

Read full article here

Accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy