Energy & Environment

Biden administration launches review of coal leasing on federal lands

The Interior Department is kicking off its review of leasing federal lands for coal mining, asking questions about climate change and rate of return for taxpayers. 

The department had previously said it planned to review its federal coal leasing program, but the review’s official launch was announced in a Federal Register notice that will be published Friday. 

“Given previous concerns about the lack of competition in the lease-by-application system, as well as consideration of the Biden Administration’s environmental goals, the BLM is beginning a new review of the Federal coal leasing program,” the notice stated. 

It said the Bureau of Land Management would consider whether current regulations should be changed to improve how it decides when and where to lease coal, as well as how the process should work. 

Specifically, the review will look at whether taxpayers are receiving a fair return under the current system and whether it’s being done in a way that’s consistent with the country’s climate goals, as well as potential environmental effects.

Under the current system, companies pay 8 percent royalty rates for using underground mining on federal lands and 12.5 percent for surface mines. 

According to a department spokesperson, the review isn’t expected to effect lease sales, lease changes or permitting for existing leases. 

The Federal Register notice also asks for input about potential new leasing models or reforms, approaches to increasing competition in the leasing process and how to account for mine cleanup. 

The department has also been separately reviewing changes to federal oil and gas leasing on public lands and in public waters. 

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