The business of leasing public lands to mine and drill on has been happening over the course of a century in the United States. Now that President Obama faces no more elections, he is going in for the kill of this industry vital to affordable and reliable energy production. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewel, under the instruction of President Obama, will be issuing a moratorium on federal land leases for the use of coal mining. According to the Department of the Interior, this moratorium will stay in place for at least three years, if not longer.
This move can have a great effect on energy prices across the nation, let alone taking another shot at the mining industry. Even after all the attempts the administration has made to hurt and weaken the industry, coal still makes up 39% of all energy production. The other more lauded renewable energy sources only make up a whopping 7% of the total amount of energy produced, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. From the output alone, it is odd that this attack on coal would come without a viable replacement to pick up the slack in energy production.
The green movement has already set its sights on the second highest energy provider of reliable base load energy production, the natural gas sector. Members of the green movement like Bill McKibben have said, “set the precedent that must quickly be applied to oil and gas as well.” This effort to weaken and remove 66% of the current energy production in the nation is absurd. According to Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Bishop explained,”
“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.”
Hidden within this act, is a dark irony the administration sweeps under the rug. Through the leasing programs, the federal government was able to secure $1.29 billion in returns. The federal government would share the revenues collected with the states that contain the lead land. In 2014 alone, Wyoming received more than $550 million in royalties resulting from lands leased for mining purposes. This action will indirectly harm those not even involved in the mining industry, which is wrong and unjust.
The next president will have the choice of whether to protect these vital energy producing industries and save the livelihoods of thousands of hardworking Americans, or continue an ideological crusade, and as such the decision in November carries even more weight.
Photo credit: Jose Luis Agapito