Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, July 26, 2017

Contact: Randi Spivak, (310) 779-4894,

Republicans Double Down on Coal Leasing, Taxpayer Fleecing

House Hearing Continues Industry-backed Assault on Public Lands, Climate

WASHINGTON— House Republicans will hold a hearing Thursday on H.R. 1778, sponsored by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), to lock in an outdated federal coal-leasing program that will lead to more climate-warming fossil-fuel production.

The bill would require approval from both the House and Senate before any Interior secretary could pause the coal-leasing program on public lands, which accounts for more than one-tenth of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

“Rep. Cheney's bill ignores sound science and public health, to the delight of the fossil fuel industry," said Randi Spivak, director of the Center's public lands program. “This bill is so bad for people, wildlife and the planet that it's disturbing our elected officials would even consider it. It's a prime example of Republicans putting coal-company profits before their constituents and the public lands they claim to care about.”

In 2016 the Obama administration put a moratorium on most new coal leasing on public lands to allow the federal Bureau of Land Management time to review the program before locking in decades of more coal extraction. The BLM had not significantly updated the coal-leasing program since 1979.

In March 2017 Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke revoked Obama's landmark federal coal-leasing moratorium. A coalition including the Center filed suit against the Trump administration since the BLM had not concluded its review. Preliminary findings by the BLM showed that coal mining fouls the air, pollutes streams and destroys wildlife habitat, and a separate audit found the leasing system shortchanges taxpayers while subsidizing coal companies.

“The coal industry is dying because there's a lack of demand, not a lack of coal,” Spivak said. “The U.S. is moving to cleaner, renewable energy sources, so there's no need to continue pillaging our public lands to prop up dirty energy.”

In the first six months of the 115th Congress, Republicans have introduced more than 45 bills that attack public lands, weaken environmental safeguards on those lands or turn over control to states and local governments. These attacks come despite the fact that the vast majority of voters across political parties support protecting and maintaining forests, national parks, monuments and other public lands and waters.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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