Corporate Welfare for Coal
by Joe Smyth
March 16, 2016
The biggest coal mining companies in the country depend on subsidized federal coal, even as they attack federal climate and clean air policies.
The coal industry attacks our efforts to address climate change and cut air pollution, often trying to misleadingly paint these important policies as a “war on coal.” But in reality, some of the biggest coal companies — like Peabody Energy — have actually grown because of their access to subsidized federal coal.
This coal is owned by the American public, but until recently, the Interior Department has mostly allowed the coal industry itself to manage our coal, turning the federal coal program into little more than corporate welfare for coal. And the biggest coal companies, which have also done the most to delay climate and clean air policies, actually depend on federal coal most of all.
In fact, new data in this report shows that most of the coal mined by the three biggest coal companies in the United States belongs to the American public.
Fortunately, the Obama administration announced a moratorium on new coal leasing and comprehensive review of the federal coal program in January 2016. As Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and others in the Obama administration conduct that review, they will need to contend with the current corporate control of publicly-owned coal.
Instead of continuing to subsidize increased coal production and the coal industry’s political attacks, the Interior Department should realign the management of federal coal by consulting with communities impacted by coal mining and transport, helping to ensure a just transition from coal to clean energy, and supporting U.S. commitments to address climate change.