Interior Dept. proposes changes to royalties, land restrictions for coal mines

“[W]e're not anticipating anything troublesome as the Act was overwhelmingly about increasing energy supply. Unless BLM has an entirely different understanding of the act, this should be mostly favorable for energy security supply,” Luke Popovich, a spokesman with the National Mining Association, told The Hill in an email.

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The acreage expansion also could facilitate more production, Dana Wilson, a BLM spokeswoman, told The Hill.

When mining firms secure a lease, they’re gunning for a specific type of coal, Wilson said. Often times, however, tracts of land nearby will either contain a small supply of coal or that of a different quality that fetches a lower rate.

Wilson explained that it might not make financial sense for a new company to bid on such leases, as high infrastructure costs are sometimes prohibitive.

But firms already mining in the area already have stomached those costs, and are therefore more able to expand to nearby areas. Allowing companies to add more of that acreage to existing leases would smooth a path for developing coal that might have otherwise been left in the ground.

On top of those changes, the rule also would tinker with bond requirements for coal leases and application and processing fees, Wilson said.

— This story was updated at 1:27 p.m.

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