US Senators urge Obama to raise royalties on federal coal to account for climate change, end exports

Senators Markey, Whitehouse, and Blumenthal introduced legislation and wrote a letter urging US President Obama to “use his executive authority to direct the Secretary of the Interior to significantly increase royalty rates to account for the social cost of carbon pollution from coal production on public lands and use his existing authority to prohibit the export of coal produced from public lands to foreign nations. Additionally, the Senators called on the President to suspend all new coal leasing until these reforms are implemented.”

“The federal coal program continues to undermine President Obama's efforts to address climate change," said in response, Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaign Director Kelly Mitchell. "Ending coal exports and raising royalties on our publicly owned coal to account for the social cost of carbon are important steps that the Obama administration can take today to start addressing the climate impacts of coal leasing. And since the Interior Department has acknowledged problems with the way it is managing our coal, no new leases should be approved, at least until these major reforms are fully enacted.

“Unfortunately, Interior Department officials have not moved quickly enough to address major problems with the federal coal program, and there is a risk that efforts at reform will be stalled and weakened by an agency that has been largely captured by the coal industry itself. President Obama recently acknowledged that we need to 'keep some fossil fuels in the ground' to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. It's time for the President to step in and direct Secretary Jewell to get serious.”

A Greenpeace report last year calculated that the carbon pollution from the 2.2 billion tons of publicly owned coal leased during the Obama administration will cause damages estimated at between $52 billion and $530 billion, using the federal government’s social cost of carbon estimates

Several organizations wrote to Interior Secretary Jewell on her first day on the job in April 2013 to identify problems with the federal coal program including such as undermining President Obama’s climate plans and fueling the coal industry’s export plans