House Republican: Obama coal policies are 'destroying my state'

House Republican: Obama coal policies are 'destroying my state'

Rep. Cynthia LummisCynthia LummisTrump's Interior candidates would play Russian roulette with West Trump eyes House members for Cabinet jobs Trump aide dodges questions about business dealings MORE (R-Wyo.) slammed the Obama administration’s fossil fuel policies on Tuesday, saying the halting of an Interior Department coal-leasing program will “destroy” her state’s natural resources-based economy.

The Interior Department announced a plan in January to halt new federal leases for coal development on federal land while the government considers the royalty rates associated with the program.

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The proposal angered coal-state lawmakers, who warned it would hurt the coal industry at a time when market forces are already lining up against the commodity.

Lummis said that was the case in Wyoming, which leads the country in coal mining on federal land.  

“In the face of the desire of this administration to literally destroy coal, oil and gas, how is it consistent with getting a fair return on the value of federal lands?” she asked Interior Secretary Sally JewellSally JewellOvernight Energy: Rough hearing for Tillerson Interior proposes raising royalty rates on federal coal mining Overnight Energy: Former Exxon chief Tillerson takes the hot seat MORE during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on Tuesday. “No leasing means no financial return.”

Jewell noted that, under the leasing pause, current coal mining is allowed to continue. She said energy-sector factors are impacting coal prices and the industry more than federal policies.

The federal government, Jewell said, is simply looking to better reflect the environmental impact of coal in lease pricing.

“We are taking a look at a coal program that has not been looked at for many, many years. We are putting a pause until a programmatic [environmental impact statement] is done.”

Lummis said that alone will hurt the state’s coal industry because it doesn’t provide certainty to mining companies.

“The things that are being done at the national parks are fabulous, incredible and I applaud you,” she told Jewell.

“But what’s happening elsewhere in the rest of our state is destructive policies that are destroying my state: families, jobs, ability to earn an income. ... I want to tell you I’m grossly offended by what this administration has done to my state.”