January 15, 2016

Wyden Statement on Federal Coal Leasing Environmental Review

Washington, D.C. – Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today issued the following statement after the Interior Department announced it would conduct an environmental review of the federal coal leasing program:

"A wholesale review of the federal coal program is long overdue,” Wyden said. “This provides an opportunity to make sure taxpayers get a fair return for coal mined on public lands, take action against climate change and ensure our clean water and clean air are protected. This review should examine the whole supply chain – including the impacts that proposed coal export facilities in Oregon and along the Columbia River could have on local communities and the environment.”

In July, Wyden and Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., introduced the Coal Royalty Fairness Act to require the Interior Department to collect royalties for coal mined on federal lands based on the actual market value of coal. The bill would also increase transparency within the federal coal program by requiring the Interior Department to calculate and publish the going market rate for coal and coal transportation. Additionally, it would require the Government Accountability Office to review the program every three years.

In 2013 as then-chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Wyden called for an investigation into the federal coal program after news reports showed how some companies were selling coal to their own affiliates to avoid paying full royalties on the market value of coal.

Wyden is a senior member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.