President Obama is delivering upon his threats to force his agenda on the American people by ceasing the approval for any new coal lease permits on federal land.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Friday that companies will continue to be able to mine coal reserves already under lease. Jewell says the coal leasing program has not been significantly changed in more than 30 years. She says it needs to be modernized to ensure a fair return to American taxpayers and to account for climate change.
An estimated 40% of domestic coal is produced from federal lands and limiting the development of new leases could cause electricity prices to “necessarily skyrocket.” Electricity generation uses 90% of produced coal.
It is not known exactly what a “fair return” to taxpayers might be as soaring utility bills will almost certainly outweigh and additional revenue from fees and/or fines.
Current coal reserves are estimated to last about 112 years, but that is if the government allows mining companies to harvest those proven reserves.
On a positive note, coal mining companies have been struggling financially as coal prices have been sinking as the global economic slowdown has diminished demand. President Obama’s tactic may curtail supply in the current glut and actually help the mining companies that have current leases in operation.