Recommendations for Reform
Federal law requires coal companies to reclaim and restore land and water resources that have been degraded by mining. But at many sites, reclamation occurs slowly, if it all. Mining companies are required to post performance bonds to ensure the successful completion of reclamation efforts should they become insolvent, but regulators have discretion to accept “self-bonds,” which allow many companies to operate without posting any surety or collateral. As the coal industry experiences financial distress and coal companies declare bankruptcy, the viability of future reclamation work is endangered. This report offers recommendations to help regulators better assess coal companies’ financial health and take steps to curtail self-bonding.
Academic Article/Working Paper
In this Article, we argue that fundamental reform is necessary and highlight a series of key themes and topics that must be addressed to improve the regulatory process and promote better, more consistent management outcomes. While the Article draws on examples from frontier areas-in particular the U.S. Arctic Ocean-the recommended changes would apply to and benefit all areas of the OCS.
Twelve Policy and Procedural Goals for the Programmatic Review
This report highlights twelve policy and procedural recommendations for the review of the federal coal program. These reforms are intended to help modernize program and so that it can provide maximum net benefits to American taxpayers. The programmatic review should identify opportunities to increase revenue, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and align federal land management with U.S. climate change goals, paying enormous dividends to the public.
There are multiple power sector models available to the Department of Interior (DOI)’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for analyzing the effect of current and alternative coal regulations and leasing policies during preparation of its programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS). This document lays out model selection criteria to assist BLM in weighing the benefits and costs of these available models, and offers recommendations for model selection, highlighting the tradeoff between model complexity and transparency.
Power Plants and the “War on Coal”
Since the beginning of the Obama Administration, conservative politicians have railed against the President’s “War on Coal.” As evidence of this supposed siege, they point to a series of rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency that aim to slash air pollution from the nation’s power sector. Because coal produces far more pollution than any other major energy source, these rules are expected to further reduce its already shrinking share of the electricity market in favor of cleaner options like natural gas and solar power. But the EPA’s policies are hardly the “unprecedented regulatory assault” that opponents make them out to be. Instead, they are merely the latest chapter in a multi-decade struggle to overcome a tragic flaw in our nation’s most important environmental law.
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