Issues Facing the Future of Federal Coal Leasing

EMD-79-47: Published: Jun 25, 1979. Publicly Released: Jun 25, 1979.

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As the new federal coal leasing program is implemented, the following complex issues must be considered: (1) how should a tradeoff analysis be performed when coal leasing goals conflict with environmental, socioeconomic, and economic goals; (2) who should pay the cost of achieving a balance among goals; and (3) can a less regulated private sector achieve timely, orderly, and efficient coal development without jeopardizing environmental and social concerns. The Department of the Interior has primary responsibility for leasing public coal lands, but the Department of Energy (DOE) is required to develop regulations related to the management of energy resources. Because of the split responsibility between Interior and DOE in the development of effective regulations related to the management of energy resources, the Leasing Liaison Committee was formed to assist in interagency coordination.

Interior has not made an analysis of existing leases to determine those that have environmental problems, or those that are not near transportation facilities. In evaluating alternative land uses, Interior is not considering regional coal production goals or other resource needs. One of the most important responsibilities Interior has in implementing a new leasing program will be to select, evaluate, and then sell specific tracts which are responsive to the need for federal coal.

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