Citing concerns over pricing and pollution, the Obama administration unveiled a moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands Friday. The change won’t affect existing leases — which generated nearly $1.3 billion for the government last year.
NPR’s Jeff Brady reports:
“The moratorium will remain in place while the Department of the Interior reviews whether fees charged to mining companies provides a fair return and considers coal’s effect on the environment. Leases already awarded are not affected.”
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced the change in a conference call Friday morning. Before that call, an administration official confirmed details of the plan to Jeff.
During what her agency is calling a “pause” in issuing leases, Jewell said Friday, “we’ll make accommodations in the event of emergency circumstances to ensure this pause will have no material impact on the nation’s ability to meet its power generation needs.”
In addition to analyzing the return American taxpayers are earning on the use of natural resources, the Interior Department says it’ll also review coal’s public health impacts.
Last year, Jewell called for a new discussion of the coal program, focusing on the fairness of prices charged for coal leases and other concerns at five public meetings.