National Mining Association (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn spoke out recently against the Department of the Interior’s moratorium on new coal-lease sales on federal land, calling the move politically motivated.
“There is no compelling need for a moratorium to ‘fix’ a program that isn’t broken," Quinn said. "The current program is more than fair to taxpayers...Keeping federal coal in the ground is a political fix that will deny taxpayers any revenue from this valuable resource, while forcing state and local communities to suffer the loss of additional high-wage jobs and sharp budget shortfalls that will require either higher taxes, lower services or both.
Quinn cited investigations from the Government Accountability Office and the Department of the Interior’s inspector general that do not support any drastic changes to current policies. Quinn also argued that the current policy is "more than fair" for taxpayers through the 12.5 percent royalty rate paid for coal leased from federal land, a 40 percent increase on the rates typically offered for coal mined from private land.
“Despite the high costs, the environmental benefits of keeping federal coal in the ground are nil,” Quinn said. “The Department of the Interior’s own reports show that all the coal mines on federal lands in Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota have no off-site impacts.”