Doesn’t it seem like almost every other week President Barack Obama does something affecting North Dakota citizens in a negative way either through executive order or via directive from one of the government agencies?
First it was the Keystone XL pipeline veto, then it was the order by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce carbon emissions by a ridiculous number (45 percent), followed by the executive order on gun licensing, and Jan. 14 the order from the Department of the Interior halting new coal leases on federal land.
Each of them will cause consumer price increases for energy, loss of high-paying jobs or restrictions on liberties for North Dakotans.
Each of them with the sole purpose of ingratiating Obama’s party to a special-interest group during an election year or to build a legacy for himself as the president who took down the fossil fuel industry.
The latest of the unilateral decisions to come out was the news last week that coal leases were being suspended on federal land. The directive suspended at least 30 applications from companies seeking to mine hundreds of millions of tons of coal. Included are projects in nine states including North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.
To some the restriction of leases on federal land might seem as no big deal, but when you consider 41 percent of all coal in the United States is located on federal land it becomes a big deal.
The goal of the suspension is to give the federal government a timeout to evaluate the current royalty rates coal mining companies are paying to the federal government, which the president and his team feel are too low. Coal industry groups counter that any increase in royalty rates will hurt consumers and threaten high-paying jobs.
Reaction from Republicans in Washington was harsh:
• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the announcement “just the latest front in an ideological war on coal” that has contributed to the loss of thousands of jobs in coal states.
• Rep. Rob Bishop, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said, “Unfortunately, the president’s bid to solidify his legacy with the extreme left will come at the expense of America’s energy needs and will make the lives of people more expensive and more uncomfortable.”
According to a 2013 North Dakota State University study, the lignite industry, directly and indirectly, employs about 15,500 people in North Dakota, with many high-paying jobs at the mines and power plants. The same study indicated the lignite industry contributes about $3.3 billion in total business activity per year, along with generating about $97 million in taxes paid to the state.
The order has a potential to be a major blow to our economy.
It is our regular opinion that we do not like action taken through executive order and it is our belief the marketplace will dictate the future of coal without executive action and it will do it at a pace that allows the economy to adapt to the change. The action by the president was executive overreach.
See the article here.
- On January 22, 2016