Bureau of Land Management sells coal for export at 36 cents/ton, ignoring climate concerns

Denver, CO - The Bureau of Land Management sold eight million tons of coal today for $0.36/ton to Bowie Resource Partners, a company that has said it plans to boost exports of this publicly owned coal.

The Spruce Stomp coal lease sale comes amid increased scrutiny of coal exports and the federal coal leasing program’s role in fueling climate change.

"The Interior Department is undermining the President's climate plan by selling our coal at subsidized rates, and giving away the Spruce Stomp lease for just 36 cents a ton to a company that plans to export it is just the latest offense. The carbon pollution from this coal will cause hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in damages, but the Interior Department completely ignores that by failing to use the government's social cost of carbon when leasing coal,” said Greenpeace Energy Campaign Director Kelly Mitchell, “Instead of giving away our coal for pennies, Interior Secretary Jewell should establish a moratorium on new coal leases and pursue comprehensive reform of the federal coal leasing program."

A Greenpeace analysis of the carbon pollution and social cost of carbon damages from the Spruce Stomp coal lease shows that the eight million tons of coal will lead to nearly 20 million metric tons of carbon pollution when burned. Using the government’s 2015 social cost of carbon figures, that would mean that this coal will cause between $231 million and $2.1 billion in damages, depending on discount rates - between $28.87 and $262.25 for each ton of coal.

The analysis uses the same methodology as a Greenpeace report released on Monday, which calculated the carbon pollution that has been unlocked by the federal coal leasing program under the Obama administration. Also this week, the Center for American Progress released a report highlighting how Powder River Basin coal leases are being undervalued, and an Associated Press story looked at US coal exports and their role in undermining efforts to reduce carbon pollution. Last week, a Sightline Institute report detailed efforts by several coal companies to boost exports of publicly owned coal, including Bowie Resource Partners.

In response to a question about the federal coal leasing program and climate change, President Obama’s top climate adviser Dan Utech told reporters this week, "We look at climate and other environmental impacts of all federal actions… I think anything we do in that space would be no exception."

In fact, a recent federal court ruling blocked a separate coal lease last month because of the government’s failure to properly consider increased carbon pollution from coal leases.

The Spruce Stomp coal lease sale is the first to be held since the Government Accountability Office and Interior Department Inspector General reports faulted BLM for its failure to account for increased coal exports.

Contact: Joe Smyth, Greenpeace Communications, 831-566-5647, joe.smyth@greenpeace.org

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