U.S. seeks changes to coal program, but Trump could alter path

U.S. officials said Wednesday that a yearlong review

BILLINGS, Mont. — U.S. officials said Wednesday that a yearlong review shows coal sales from public lands need to be modernized to deal with climate change and give taxpayers a fair return, but it’s uncertain whether the incoming Trump administration will follow through.

The Interior Department imposed a moratorium on new coal sales last year following longstanding complaints from federal investigators and members of Congress that the program was shortchanging taxpayers.

In a preliminary report released Wednesday as part of a broad review of U.S. coal sales, Interior officials said they were considering raising coal royalty rates and requiring compensation from mining companies to offset the climate change effects of burning the fuel.

Publicly owned coal accounts for 10 per cent of total U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions.

It is being bought by mining companies sometimes for less than a dollar per ton — a fraction of the cost of coal from private reserves, outgoing Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said.

“Increased emissions of carbon into our atmosphere are having a profound impact and if we don’t get on this, future generations will pay a heavy price,” Jewell said during an appearance at Columbia University. .

Most federal coal comes from six states — Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah, North Dakota and Oklahoma. Production has fallen sharply in recent years as coal companies have struggled to compete with cheap natural gas.

President-elect Donald Trump has promised to rescind the sales moratorium. He’s described it as part of a broader effort by the administration of President Barack Obama to kill the coal industry.

But Jewell said even after the Obama administration is gone, the public will demand that the government deal with subsidized fossil fuels that contribute to climate change.

She also suggested the report’s findings could be used in lawsuits, presumably from environmentalists, that could be filed to challenge any end to reform effort she began.

The Trump transition team did not immediately respond emailed messages seeking comment. Trump’s Interior appointee, Rep. Ryan Zinke, is from Montana, which holds some of the world’s largest untapped coal reserves.

Montana U.S. Sen. Steve Daines dismissed the Interior report as “laughable” and predicted the moratorium would be overturned.

Just Posted

Sunnybrook pies in demand

Just in time for Easter

Rocky RCMP officer who fired a weapon at fleeing vehicle is under investigation

Driver “appeared unhurt” in incident on O’Chiese First Nation

Emotional impact of hurtful words explored in art exhibit

Self-worth is closely tied to physical image, says artist

WATCH: Red Deerians can have a say about crime fighting

Municipality will poll citizens about policing priorities

21-year-old charged with drug trafficking in Rocky Mountain House

RCMP seized drugs after conducting a traffic stop and charged a 21-year-old… Continue reading

Liberal bill would tighten controls on sale, licensing of firearms

OTTAWA — Gun retailers would be required to keep records of firearms… Continue reading

Alberta factoring in Trans Mountain pipeline in budget forecasts

EDMONTON — Finance Minister Joe Ceci says Alberta will rely on anticipated… Continue reading

Pooches and pickup truck stolen in Edmonton found in Rimbey

Two old English bulldogs named Rocky and Jersey who were in a… Continue reading

Statistics Canada reports wholesale sales up 0.1 per cent in January

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says wholesale sales rose 0.1 per cent to… Continue reading

Right whale deaths cost Gulf snow crab fishery its designation as sustainable

HALIFAX — An international organization has suspended a sustainability certificate for the… Continue reading

Financial watchdog says controls to mitigate sales risk at banks ‘insufficient’

TORONTO — Canada’s financial consumer watchdog says there are “insufficient” controls in… Continue reading

Sheriff official: 3 injured in Maryland high school shooting

GREAT MILLS, Md. — A shooting at a Maryland high school Tuesday… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month