Monday, January 16, 2017

BLM releases long-awaited coal program review; suggests raising coal rental rates with inflation

Almost two years after Secretary Sally Jewell called for an “open” conversation about the country’s coal, the Bureau of Land Management released a public review of the national coal program Wednesday. Issues of concern in the nation’s coal program include transparency in the leasing process, enhanced surface rights for landowners and wasted natural gas from coal mines, according to the BLM. Billed as a chance to modernize the federal coal program that hasn’t been reassessed since the mid-’80s, this preliminary review summarizes public comments on the program, garnered over the last year. It also includes a long list of suggestions for policy changes, like increasing royalty rates and adjusting both rental rates and bonus bids to catch up with inflation. The suggestions are packaged in a series of proposed options, each including a bundle of reforms. The BLM will continue toward developing a final draft, which will include assessments of the reform packages, as well as analysis of continuing the status quo...more

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