Historical Uses and Justifications
Royalties have been used as a policy lever to influence behavior and meet national goals for centuries. For example, royalties have been set at specific rates in order to: encourage resource production; encourage westward expansion; maintain the incentive to create new inventions; and deter socially undesirable behavior, to name just a few. This report concludes that it would be reasonable for Interior to adjust coal royalty rates to account for negative externalities that are not otherwise addressed by regulation. Historical uses, accepted economic justifications, legislative history, and examples of royalty use by private actors and in other industries discussed in the paper all support the determination that it would be reasonable for Interior to increase coal royalty rates to account for externality costs and to better align the federal coal program with national climate change priorities.
How the Clean Power Plan Conforms to Statutory Limits on EPA’s Authority
This policy brief analyzes the limits of the EPA’s Section 111 regulatory authority and determines that the CPP explicitly acknowledges and respects each of the EPA’s statutory constraints. The brief discusses the eight major constraints for emissions guidelines under Clean Air Act Section 111, and examines how the CPP handles each one. The analysis finds no evidence to support petitioners’ accusations that the the EPA exceeded its regulatory authority.
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.
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.
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