New Report Details How Federal Coal Leasing and Exports Undermine Obama’s Climate Plan

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A new Greenpeace report, "Leasing Coal, Fueling Climate Change," details how the federal coal leasing program undermines President Obama's climate plan by selling publicly owned coal at subsidized rates and failing to consider increased coal exports.

Comparison of carbon pollution from federal coal leasing to EPA Clean Power Plan reductions

The federal coal leasing program is undermining efforts to address climate change by selling our coal at subsidized rates.

New report details how federal coal leasing and exports undermine Obama’s climate plan

A new report from Greenpeace details the carbon pollution that has been unlocked by the Interior Department’s federal coal leasing program, showing how selling coal owned by the American public at subsidized rates is undermining President Obama’s efforts to address climate change with EPA rules. The report, “Leasing Coal, Fueling Climate Change,” also calculates the social cost of carbon damages expected from publicly owned coal that has been leased during the Obama administration, showing that one ton of coal has sold for $1.03 on average, but will cause between $22 and $237 in damages to society, depending on discount rates.

“The federal coal leasing program is undermining efforts to address climate change by selling our coal at subsidized rates,” said Greenpeace Energy Campaign Director Kelly Mitchell, “Instead of giving away our coal for one dollar a ton, Interior Secretary Jewell should establish a moratorium on new coal leases and pursue comprehensive reform of the federal coal leasing program.”

The report was released as the Bureau of Land Management plans to sell eight million tons of publicly owned coal in Colorado on Wednesday, July 30, with the Spruce Stomp coal lease. Bowie Resource Partners, the company that applied for this coal, is openly planning to export it, which was detailed in a separate report last week from the Sightline Institute. Also today, an Associated Press story highlighted US coal exports and their role in undermining efforts to reduce carbon pollution. The Greenpeace report also assesses the international impacts of US coal exports, but focuses on the Interior Department’s coal leasing program, which is the source of 40% of US coal extraction.

Other key conclusions from the Greenpeace report:

The Bureau of Land Management has leased 2.2 billion tons of publicly owned coal during the Obama administration, unlocking 3.9 billion metric tons of carbon pollution. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of over 825 million passenger vehicles, and more than the 3.7 billion tons that was emitted in the entire European Union in 2012.

The carbon pollution from publicly owned coal leased during the Obama administration will cause damages estimated at between $52 billion and $530 billion, using the federal government’s social cost of carbon estimates. In contrast, the total amount of revenue generated from those coal lease sales was $2.3 billion.

One Bureau of Land Management office in Wyoming recently proposed a plan that estimates new coal leases amounting to 10.2 billion tons, which would unlock an estimated 16.9 billion metric tons of carbon pollution - far more than the 5.3 billion metric tons of carbon pollution reductions expected by EPA’s Clean Power Plan between 2020 and 2030.

The report is available at

Contact: Joe Smyth, 831-566-5647, joe(dot)smyth(at)greenpeace(dot)org

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