House GOP: We Love Us Some Coal, Let’s Burn Even More

Republicans on a House energy subcommittee held a love-in for western coal Tuesday, calling on the Obama administration to increase production from federal lands in Wyoming and Montana despite evidence that the Department of Interior’s coal program is a giveaway to private industry that cheats taxpayers out of a fair return for the public resource.

Without even a mention of coal’s role in driving climate change (28 percent of U.S. carbon emissions), or its well documented impacts on public health and the environment ($345 billion a year in hidden costs, according to a Harvard study), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and his colleagues on the energy and mineral resources subcommittee of the House Committee on Natural Resources couldn’t say enough good things about the dirty fuel.

“The United States has the world’s largest coal reserves,” Lamborn said. “It would be the height of folly to throw this resource away.”

“What is needed is a war on unemployment, not a war on coal,” added Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), accusing the president of “declaring war on American jobs and American consumers” through his recently announced program to attack climate change.

The focus of the hearing was on coal in the Powder River Basin of northeast Wyoming and southeast Montana, which supplies about 40 percent of the coal mined in the U.S. Nearly all of that production in the two states is from federal lands, and is overseen by the Bureau of Land Management in the Interior Department.

The federal coal program has a long history of problems and scandal, including a loss of $100 million in federal revenue in the early 1980’s. Once again it is under scrutiny, by the Interior Department’s inspector general office, the Government Accountability Office, and outside analysts.

An inspector general’s report released last month, for example, found that the Bureau of Land Management had failed in its statutory responsibility to competitively lease coal tracts and to guarantee the U.S. Treasury receives fair market value for public coal. In a sample of leases, the review found taxpayers had been shortchanged $62 million. Last year, an inquiry by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis estimated that lost revenues since the early 1980’s totaled almost $30 billion.

The inspector general’s report found a program rigged in favor of industry. Not only does the BLM fail to independently verify the value of the coal resources it is selling – a determination based on data supplied by coal companies themselves –but it does not take into account soaring demand and prices for coal exports to other nations, which have doubled in recent years. Further, 80 percent of the leases sold in the last two decades received just one bid.

Despite its rhetorical commitment to the fight against global warming, the Obama administration has sold coal leases on about 2 billion tons of coal the past two years, and leases for nearly another 4 billion tons are in the pipeline.


11 Responses to House GOP: We Love Us Some Coal, Let’s Burn Even More

  1. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    So, Reptilicans love money more than people, including their own spawn. Next- ‘Scoop- Homer Simpson loves donuts’.

  2. chessmen says:

    “The United States has the world’s largest coal reserves,” Lamborn said. “It would be the height of folly to throw this resource away.”

    I can fix that.

    “The Dystopia States has the world’s largest proven coal reserves. It would be folly to extract more fossil fuels and add more poison to a dying system of life.”

    Ok, and that gets me thinking. If they want to imbibe more poison, we [the people] have the right to opt out of that policy?

    If only more Americans would commit to stop working wage slavery jobs in solidarity and walk away from it all…

    Then you could experiment with something new.

  3. Mark E says:

    Today’s Coal


    War on grocery shoppers when my preschooler will be feeding her own family. The war on unemployment can be won with a clean-energy WWII level mobilization.

    We need a SMART war on unemployment,
    not one that just makes some people rich in the shortrun.

  4. rollin says:

    Reducing coal burning plan:

    Turn every electrical appliance and light you can. Go outside and enjoy nature while it is still mostly here. do this as often as possible.

  5. Leif says:

    Fully agree chessman. The GOP do not fund abortion. Fine. A precedent. Why must progressives be forced to fund the ecocide of the planet?

    I feel it is a failure of the greens not to get in the GOP’s faces with the hypocrisy their views represent.

    If I remember correctly, the original “Tea Party” was the rebellion of taxation without representation. This is far worse, this is taxation in support of the ecocide of Earth’s life Support Systems.

  6. Ian P says:

    Could Doug Lamborn tell us here in Africa how many climate change deaths per US coal industry job we should bear without complaint?

  7. BillD says:

    Sorry, we can’t really worry about the coal mines and miners in Montana, West Virginia and Kentucky–they need to be shut down. Unfortunately, even Democrats in my State of Indiana still favor coal because of our state’s high dependence. I’m trying to educate them on both the dangers of coal and the economic risk of the rapid shift from coal that will come soon.

  8. Leif says:

    Not any job, only Green Jobs can start to move the economies of the world out of the morass. As long as capitalism has the ability to profit, handily I would add, from polluting the commons, every “Black” job just digs the hole deeper. Only green jobs ADD VALUE to the economy and start to rejuvenate Earth’s life support systems as well as the economy via energy from the renewable sector.
    Corporations are “People” now for better or worse. Speaking as a “Real People”, if I throw a paper cup out the car window, bingo, ~$100 fine. ($1,000 in Alaska.) Corpro/People can pollute the air, water, dirt, and oceans with Toxins and the dirtiest Corpro/People have become richest Corpro/People in the world and the foundation of Western Capitalism. Still Corpro/People get rich and even subsidized with YOURS & MY TAX MONEY. And we cannot stop it. Go figure. Please help! Stop profits from the pollution of the commons…. PLEASE…

  9. Mark Shapiro says:

    The House GOP “loves” coal?

    Generally speaking, I don’t burn things that I love.

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Sounds like you need a war on capitalism, which, as its name proudly asserts, puts the interests of capital before all else.

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Ian, don’t let that ‘coal industry jobs’ malarkey fool you. Africans, and everybody else, will die for ‘coal industry profits’. Coal industry workers will die of ‘black lung’ as always.