Boosting the price of coal mined from beneath public lands will result in mine closures and worsening damage to rural economies, Mesa County officials told a federal agency.
The federal coal leasing program provides an “adequate return to the public,” the county said in a letter to the Bureau of Land Management the commission approved on Monday. “Given the current state of the coal industry, increases in lease payments and royalties would ultimately result in more mine closures and less revenue to the public.”
Instead of increasing royalties on federal coal, the BLM should expedite its coal-leasing process, the letter said. Though Mesa County has little coal, it serves as a center for the coal industry in Gunnison and Moffat counties.
Grand Junction also is a commercial center for communities that serve coal mining, such as Delta County, which has seen the loss of 900 high-paying jobs, said Commissioner Rose Pugliese.
The loss of those jobs, many of which pay as much as $139,000 a year, salary and benefits, is reverberating in Mesa County with reduced sales tax revenues, said Commissioner John Justman.
“The three-year coal lease sale moratorium and other anti-coal actions imposed by the federal government have significant negative impacts on our Mesa County economy,” the letter says. “The federal government should help to alleviate the burdens placed on the energy industry by streamlining the coal leasing process to enable the responsible development of our natural resources.”
A moratorium on leasing would harm other economic sectors, the letter said.
Affordable, reliable energy from coal stimulates the entire economy, the letter said.
“The more affordable and reliable our electricity is, the better our access is to food, shelter, clothing, transportation, sanitation and clean water. In states such as California where electricity from fossil fuel use has been restricted, electricity rates are over double the rates we pay here in Colorado.”
The letter is a follow-up to the public meeting last month that was part of the process for a programmatic environmental impact statement on the federal coal-leasing program.
See the article here.
- On July 27, 2016