U.S. Senators Mike Enzi, John Barrasso and U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis, all R-Wyo., helped introduce bicameral legislation to protect coal jobs from the Obama administration’s recent moratorium on new federal coal leases. The legislation would help ensure that states and tribes have a significant voice in any changes to federal coal, oil and gas royalties or leasing policy.
Led by U.S. Senator Steve Daines and U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke, both R-Mont., the legislation would reinstate the Royalty Policy Committee, made up of state governors, their appointees and Indian Tribes that produce federal minerals, to advise and inform the secretary of the interior in the formation of mineral and energy policies and regulations.
The legislation would also place a “firm, reasonable timeline” on the federal government’s review of the federal coal leasing program and would ensure the program’s lease sales continue in a timely and consistent manner after completion of National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) reviews.
“As I told the BLM at today's public meeting in Casper, the people of Wyoming already know the value of coal mined on federal land,” Enzi said. “It is important to reinstate the Royalty Policy Committee so that states and tribes most impacted by federal coal leasing, the real experts on this program, have a meaningful say. The Certainty for States and Tribes Act would help provide the states this opportunity. It would also put a critical check on Interior’s review of the federal coal program so that it can't drag on for years on end without a time limit or accountability.”
“The Obama administration’s plan to raise royalty rates on federal coal, oil, and gas is yet another effort to appease reckless and extreme environmentalists,” Barrasso said. “By reestablishing the Royalty Policy Committee, our bill gives voice to communities that are impacted most by the secretary of the Interior’s decisions. It will also prevent the secretary from continuing to wreak economic havoc within Rocky Mountain states and Indian tribes.”
“Any review of the federal coal program must involve meaningful consultation with states, tribes, and industry,” Lummis said. “I am proud to join with Representative Ryan Zinke and Senator Steve Daines of Montana and Wyoming Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso to introduce the Certainty for States and Tribes Act. This legislation would reconstitute the Royalty Policy Committee, require the committee's input on any proposed changes to royalty policy rates, and place a 3 year deadline on the completion of the federal coal program review. The bill would also take steps to ensure coal leasing can continue during the course of the review, instead of letting Secretary Jewell's moratorium on coal lease sales to continue indefinitely.”
The Certainty for States and Tribes Act is also co-sponsored by David McKinley (W.VA-01), Scott Tipton (Colo.-03), Paul Gosar (Ariz.- 04), Kevin Cramer (N.D.- AL), Bruce Westerman (Ark.- 04) and Bill Johnson (Ohio- 06).