Greenpeace US released this powerful video today, contrasting the laudable statements that President Obama made during his climate change address in June with his administration's efforts to greatly increase the amount of public lands leased for coal mining.
Next week, the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) intends to auction off a parcel called Maysdorf II, which will see 148 million tons of publicly owned coal sold at bargain basement prices and exported overseas to Chinese power plants. Next month, BLM has also scheduled an auction for the Haycreek II lease of another 167 million tons of taxpayer-subsidized coal from the Powder River Basin.
For U.S. taxpayers, this coal bounty could sell for a paltry $1.10 per ton, if the recent North Porcupine lease awarded to Peabody Coal is any indication.
Not only is the U.S. taxpayer getting fleeced by the coal industry in these leases, but the BLM's reckless auctioning off of public lands for further fossil fuel extraction greatly undermines, and cheapens in my view, the President's stated commitment to address climate change in the waning days of his second term.
Greenpeace and a coalition of 20 other public interest organizations are calling on newly minted Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, to cancel the leases in order to demonstrate her department's commitment to honoring the president's climate action plan.
Over 135,000 people have petitioned Secretary Jewell calling for a moratorium on Powder River Basin coal leases and a comprehensive review of the federal coal leasing program.
“It doesn’t take an MBA to know that giving our coal away for pennies on the dollar so coal companies can torch our planet is a bad deal,” said Josh Nelson, CREDO Action campaign manager. “But now that we have a successful CEO leading Interior, we hope that the Obama administration will finally put an end to this unmitigated environmental disaster and taxpayer rip-off.”