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Guardians Demands Interior Department Cancel Coal Sale for Exports

July 1, 2014
Jeremy Nichols (303) 437-7663
In This Release
Climate + Energy  
Denver—Guardians today expressed serious alarm over the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s proposal to sell eight million tons of publicly owned coal to known coal exporter, despite significant carbon pollution impacts and violations of public trust.

“The Interior Department seems to be at war with the climate, making every effort to accommodate as much coal mining and coal exporting as possible,” said Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program Director. “We’re calling on the agency today to halt its plans to sell more coal until it fully and faithfully addresses the impacts of exports, commits to curtailing carbon pollution, and restores public trust in their coal leasing program. The demands of the coal industry should not come before our climate and the integrity of public resource management.”

In a formal notice today, the Bureau of Land Management, the Interior Department agency charged with managing publicly owned coal, announced its intent to auction off eight million tons of coal to Bowie Resources, which operates the Bowie Number2 mine in western Colorado. Bowie Resources already exports more than one million tons of coal from its mine through California ports to Asia.

The sale of the Spruce Stomp coal lease comes amidst questions over the legality of the coal lease and as the Interior Department has been under scrutiny for ignoring the economic and environmental impacts of selling coal for export. In an appeal filed in April, Guardians challenged the Bureau of Land Management’s approval of the Spruce Stomp lease challenging the agency’s failure to address the air pollution impacts of mining in western Colorado and failure to account for coal exports.

The appeal has yet to be resolved. In spite of this, the Bureau of Land Management is plowing ahead to auction off the lease to facilitate more coal exports.

“The Bureau of Land Management unfortunately seems deluded into believing that publicly owned coal is the property of coal companies,”said Nichols. “Their unwillingness to address public concerns, to resolve outstanding questions over the integrity of its coal program, and to restore faith and confidence in their management of public resources is a shameful indication that this agency is not beholden to Americans, but to the fossil fuel industry.”

Bowie Resources has agreements with ports in California to export up to 2.3million tons of coal annually from its western Colorado mine. The company is seeking an additional 1.2million tons of capacity in California and looking to secure export capacity in the Pacific Northwest. The company recently tried to secure an agreement from the Port of Oakland for additional export capacity, although those plans were rejected.

Despite this, the Bureau of Land Management asserted in its decision that approval of the Spruce Stomp coal lease was needed to meet national energy objectives.

“Our federal government should not be in the business of propping up a coal export market,” said Nichols. “Our efforts to curtail carbon here at home will amount to nothing if the Bureau of Land Management keeps shipping coal abroad to be burned.”

The sale of the Spruce Stomp coal lease has been scheduled for July 30th at the Bureau of Land Management’s state office in Lakewood, Colorado.