New TWS report: Coal reform ‘Can’t Wait’

Oct 6, 2016
Today, The Wilderness Society released its new report showing the costs of waiting to reform the federal coal leasing program.

The We Can’t Wait report shows how outdated leasing guidelines, which cost taxpayers $62 million each year and create mounting environmental threats and cleanup costs, require immediate action. The report explores how modernizing the leasing program would safeguard the value of our public lands for generations to come.

“Our analysis underscores how urgent federal coal reform really is,” said Joshua Mantell, The Wilderness Society’s Carbon Management Campaign Manager. “We are being shortchanged by outdated guidelines that favor coal companies and compromise taxpayers, communities and the health of our public lands and water resources – and that is just unacceptable.”

Currently, local communities and taxpayers are on the hook for nearly $2 billion in existing environmental cleanup. With antiquated regulation governing mine clean up, coal companies haven’t made good on their promises to restore the land nearly 90 percent of the time. Furthermore, the damages due to climate change from mining emissions would cost nearly $30 billion a year.  

To add to these costs, coal companies are asking for more leases before crucial reforms are put in place, which would add even more lost money to the taxpayers’ ledger and would make even more of our public lands and water resources vulnerable to pollution and degradation.

Mantell continued, “We can’t wait, we have to act now, invest in our future, modernize the leasing program and bring our energy landscape into the 21st century.”

Lost revenues could be spent on improving public infrastructure and funding public education services in local communities. Instead, the report finds that coal companies have left taxpayers behind in the dust as they lose millions because of outdated rates for leasing shared resources.

Each year, surface mining wastes 4.7 billion gallons of water. Recent droughts have hit Western states hard, creating an even greater need for modern leasing guidelines that address both water availability and quality issues resulting from mining activities before these impacts intensify.

Read the full report here


Anastasia Greene, Communications Specialist, 202-429-2624,

Josh Mantell, Carbon Management Campaign Manager, 202-429-2674,