In January, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell put an immediate moratorium on all new leasing of coal from federal land.
Coal from public land represents about 40 percent of US coal supply, but critics have long charged that it’s being leased to private developers for too cheap, at a rate that does not account for its current market price or its impact on climate change. The "programmatic review" is intended, in part, to make sure taxpayers get their money’s worth.
The public comment period on the review has just ended. As expected, environmentalists flooded the Department of the Interior with hundreds of thousands of comments supporting the moratorium; the usual suspects (Republicans and the coal industry) are opposed.
We’ll have to wait to see what the results of the review are — a draft report is expected later this year, with another opportunity for public comment — but in the meantime, it’s worth taking a step back and asking a simple question.