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Despite attempts by anti-coal activists in Congress, the report released today by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concerning the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) federal coal leasing program is not the condemnation of coal they were looking for. In fact, the report highlights the importance of federal coal to the nation’s economy and energy portfolio, according to U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.

“Some of my anti-coal colleagues requested a report on the coal leasing program and when the report showed that each year it adds around $1 billion to the treasury, the coal opponents concentrated on misleading people into thinking the program is not competitive,” said Enzi.  

The report found that over 40 percent of the nation’s coal production in 2012 came from federal leases and made recommendations for improving the coal leasing program, none of which require any significant changes. The report notes that while there have been 96 coal tracts that received one bidder since 1990, the reason is tied to the significant capital investment and time required to start a new mine, not a lack of competition for bids.

“It’s a lot easier for a company to mine land next to where it already has operations than for a new company to come in and start from scratch. In that sense, it’s understandable that some coal tracts only receive one bidder,” said Enzi. “An ounce of common sense goes a long way when reading a report like this. The BLM determines what a fair price is and if they don’t get it, they don’t lease it until they do. To claim otherwise is misleading. I’m proud of Wyoming and our coal. It’s the cleanest in the country. Without it, some of our friends on the coasts would be experiencing a lot higher energy prices than they are now and there would be more people looking for work.  We need to be looking to increase productive use of coal rather than propagating a misinformation campaign designed to cripple one of our nation’s leading energy sources and job-providing industries.”

Click here to read the report.