Hearing spotlights bill to sunset coal lease moratorium
Washington, D.C.-Today U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis hosted Wyoming panelists at a hearing on H.R. 5259: the Certainty for States and Tribes Act. Rep. Ryan Zinke (MT-At large) introduced and Rep. Lummis cosponsored the legislation in response to the current Administration’s recent attacks on coal, oil, and gas production, including: the Secretarial Order placing a moratorium on new federal coal leases during a review of the federal coal program; the Office of Natural Resources Revenue’s proposed valuation rulemaking for coal, oil, and gas; and the Bureau of Land Management’s ongoing evaluation of a royalty rate increase on coal, oil and gas produced on public lands.
Among those testifying were Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow and Mr. Alex Kean, Administrator of the State of Wyoming Economic Analysis Division.
“While ignoring input from Wyoming and her citizens, this Administration continues wielding regulatory power like a meat cleaver, cutting off responsible energy production that is crucial to state revenue and keeping lights on across America,” said Rep. Lummis. “Wyoming livelihoods are at stake in the ongoing review of the federal coal program, and this bill ensures Wyoming voices are represented through a reconstituted and strengthened Royalty Policy Committee. The bill also sunsets Secretary Jewell’s indefinite moratorium on federal coal leasing, capping it at three years to provide more certainty to states and coal producers during this process. Coal remains the most abundant, reliable, and affordable of America’s energy fuels, a critical ingredient for American energy security that will be left in the ground if this Administration’s policies are allowed to stand.”
“Reinstating the Royalty Policy Committee is one straight-forward, common sense way to improve communication between States and the Federal Government,” said Superintendent Balow. “In addition, through the creation of the State and Tribal Resources Board, those states and tribes most dependent on royalty revenue from oil, gas, and coal will be provided greater opportunity to report on the impact of changes to royalty policy and be allowed additional time, if needed, to prepare for any reductions to critical services, including education funding.”
“Cooperation between State and federal agencies is critical to effective management of resources,” said Administrator Kean. “Wyoming has significant expertise and information that will improve federal regulatory processes in many areas. Wyoming has the biggest stake in the federal coal program and H.R. 5259 gives Wyoming the opportunity to be part of the process from the beginning and will result in better regulations and policies.”
Summary of the Certainty for States and Tribes Act (H.R. 5259):
· Reconstitutes and ensures state representation on the Royalty Policy Committee, originally established in 1995 to advise the Secretary of the Interior on royalty management issues (including coal, oil, and gas) as well as other mineral-related policies.
o The Committee had only met once during the Obama presidency before Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell let the Committee’s charter lapse in 2014.
· Creates a “State and Tribal Resources Board” to assess the economic impacts of the Department of the Interior’s proposed regulations on state and tribal budgets and make recommendations to the Secretary.
o If the Secretary fails to make the recommended changes prior to policies or regulations being finalized, the Secretary must provide clear justification of why the recommendations were not followed.
Places a 3 year deadline for the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) of the federal coal program, sunsetting the moratorium on new federal coal leases at the earlier of three years or the completion of the PEIS.
Grandfathers in coal leases pending at the time of the coal Secretarial Order.
Establish streamlined procedures to ensure existing coal leases can be modified during the moratorium. F