Via E&E Publishing:
A Seattle listening session today on federal coal policy is setting the stage for a showdown between two senators who have staked out opposing views on the issue.
In the midst of the Bureau of Land Management’s planned six-hour listening session to solicit feedback on its leasing moratorium and potential reforms, Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines will host his own public meeting in Billings as a way to make sure his pro-coal constituents have a say.
Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, will send her staff to the Seattle session to read a letter commending Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on coal leasing reform efforts.
Signed by 14 Democrats, it asks BLM to consider climate change and the nation’s long-term energy needs as it reviews the moratorium.
“The time has come to accelerate America’s shift away from the dirty, carbon-based fuels of the past to the cleaner, more efficient fuels of the future,” Cantwell wrote yesterday in a Seattle Times op-ed.
“The federal government should continue investing in clean energy and stop subsidizing private companies to take coal from public lands,” she wrote.
To set the tone prior to Daines’ meeting, the group Count on Coal Montana will be hosting a pro-coal rally to voice opposition to the moratorium. Daines will address the group at noon via a webcast from Capitol Hill.
Daines claims BLM has snubbed his state by holding a meeting on the scope of its review in Seattle “where there is little to zero coal.”
As of the end of 2013, Montana held more than one-fourth of the nation’s estimated recoverable coal reserves, he estimated.
“Coal plays a vital role in Montana’s economy and provides a reliable source of affordable energy for hardworking Montana families,” Daines said. “I look forward to hearing the concerns of Montanans who will be most impacted by the Obama administration’s war on energy and the good-paying jobs it supports.”
Last month, Daines introduced legislation to put a Jan. 15, 2019, deadline on the Obama administration’s federal coal leasing moratorium and review (E&E Daily, May 18).
Former Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) also criticized BLM’s venue in a Seattle Times opinion column. Hastings, past chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, accused the Obama administration of “hypocrisy” for holding a public hearing on coal in a community “far removed” from the source.
“It’s certainly easy to sit back and criticize the production of fossil fuels (such as coal) when you are not the least bit impacted by policies that limit the production of these energy sources. But the fact is, communities that rely on the benefits of this production are hugely impacted,” Hastings said.
The administration has defended the meeting in Seattle by pointing to an effort by companies to increase coal export capacity in the Pacific Northwest. BLM also scheduled sessions in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado, among other locations.
See the article here.
- On June 21, 2016