Halting New Coal Leases on Public Lands Makes Economic, Environmental Sense

Statement by Rachel Cleetus, lead economist and climate policy manager with UCS

Published Jan 15, 2016

WASHINGTON (January 15, 2016)—Today, the Department of the Interior announced it will temporarily halt issuing new coal leases on public lands while it re-evaluates the terms of these leases and conducts a comprehensive review of the federal coal program to ensure taxpayers are getting the best return on the sale of public resources and a proper accounting of public health and environmental concerns.  

Below is a statement from Rachel Cleetus, lead economist and climate policy manager with the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

“This announcement is a welcome step in the right direction. It doesn’t make economic or environmental sense for American taxpayers to subsidize the extraction of fossil fuels that contribute to climate change. Mounting climate impacts are a serious threat to our economy and it makes fiscal sense to move away from outdated fossil fuel energy toward renewables and other low-carbon energy sources. That’s where the market is heading, that’s the future, and we need to accelerate this transition to a clean energy economy.”

The Department also noted that its action to halt issuing new coal leases, while not affecting current leases, during this review follows a precedent set by previous administrations.