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Federal Coal Program comment period
June 28, 2016 @ 11:00 AM - July 23, 2016 @ 5:00 PM
JUNE 28 PITTSBURGH:
Comment in person at a “public scoping meeting” Pittsburgh Convention Center, Pittsburgh, PA; register in person at 11:00 AM to give comments. See agenda. Watch the meeting by livestream via your computer
WRITTEN COMMENTS BY JULY 23
Submit a written comment as a citizen, with a spiritual study or prayer group, or with your congregation or community until July 23 (or July 28, depending on the web page): BLM_WO_Coal_Program_PEIS_Comments@blm.gov
What is this?
The U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management is beginning a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) of its coal program. It has been over 30 years since the last review (How long ago was that? 1986 was the year of the Chernobyl disaster and Microsoft’s IPO. Ronald Reagan was president, Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone’s secret vault, and Matt Groening created the Simpsons.)
How do I learn more?
Our friends at Creation Justice Ministries have shared an excellent briefer on the program with us. While Christian in its bent, it is informative and will provide background and suggest connection points for commenters of any faith tradition.
The press release from the Department of the Interior summarizes the project this way:
The programmatic review will examine concerns about the federal coal program that have been raised by the Government Accountability Office, the Interior Department’s Inspector General, Members of Congress and the public. The review, in the form of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), will take a careful look at issues such as how, when, and where to lease; how to account for the environmental and public health impacts of federal coal production; and how to ensure American taxpayers are earning a fair return for the use of their public resources.
“Even as our nation transitions to cleaner energy sources, building on smart policies and progress already underway, we know that coal will continue to be an important domestic energy source in the years ahead,” said Secretary Jewell. “We haven’t undertaken a comprehensive review of the program in more than 30 years, and we have an obligation to current and future generations to ensure the federal coal program delivers a fair return to American taxpayers and takes into account its impacts on climate change.” [source]
Public comment helped lead to this review, and the full process will likely take several years.
“As we begin this review, we are looking forward to hearing from the public about a wide range of issues about the federal coal program,” said BLM Director Neil Kornze. “The information we gather will help shape future decisions about this public resource.”
The BLM is particularly interested in gathering public input on the issues and policies that should be outlined in the PEIS, including topics such as whether Americans are receiving a fair return for federal coal, how market conditions affect coal, how federal coal affects the environment, and how these and other factors impact coal-dependent communities. Public feedback obtained during these meetings will help inform the size and scope of the review conducted in the PEIS. [source]
Anyone may access the federal fact sheet on the program.
There are few BLM lands (and few coal leases) in Eastern States, but our comments still count — particularly because we are still a state that burns coal.