Department of Interior pushes forward on its commitment to coal communities

Jan 11, 2017

Colowoyo Mine, Colorado.

Mason Cummings/TWS
New report release helps pave the way for meaningful updates to coal program that shortchanged Westerners for decades

Today, the Department of the Interior released its report regarding review of the federal coal program. Coal mining on public lands is long overdue for reform, having gone untouched for nearly 30 years. This outdated program is failing to provide taxpayers with a fair return on publicly owned resources and failing to protect our air and water from pollution.

Today’s announcement represents the culmination of meaningful progress that President Obama and Secretary Jewel have made to address this pressing problem. However, that work will not begin to pay dividends for Western communities unless President-Elect Trump builds upon it and acts to revamp an outdated program that is shortchanging Americans.

“The federal coal program simply doesn’t serve our Western communities well,” said Pam Eaton, The Wilderness Society’s senior director for reducing climate emissions. “Throughout the campaign, President-Elect Donald Trump promised to be a friend to coal communities. He cannot flip a switch and bring back jobs in this declining industry, but he can help these communities now by making changes to the federal coal program to ensure taxpayers are getting a fair return on the sale of their public coal and aren’t stuck footing the bill for environmental clean-up.

“Taking care of people and using our public resources wisely are not partisan issues,” continued Eaton. “Now more than ever, we need to ensure that our federal coal program supports a healthy economic transition for these communities, supports the job creators in a diverse range of industries out west and cleans up our existing environmental messes.”