As the U.S. Senate debated legislation to modernize our nation’s energy infrastructure, lawmakers considered provisions addressing the Obama administration’s decision to halt coal leasing on federal lands, a move that stands to inflict serious damage on jobs and the economy in Utah.
In response to the President’s latest actions harming the West, Senator Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, the senior Republican in the Senate, introduced an amendment that would overturn the moratorium and prohibit the Secretary of the Interior from suspending coal leases on federal lands without congressional approval.
“America’s coal miners have no greater antagonist than their own President,” Hatch said.“Ever since President Obama took office, he has deliberately targeted coal producers, subjecting them to onerous, job-destroying regulations that threaten our economic future. The administration’s recently announced decision to halt coal leasing on federal lands is just the latest assault in a calculated campaign to cripple the coal industry. My amendment would rein in the President’s actions and protect Utah’s hardworking families from overly burdensome federal regulations.”
In addition to restraining the President’s abuse of executive power, Senator Hatch’s amendment would also require the Secretary of the interior to submit to Congress a study demonstrating that a moratorium on federal coal assets would not result in a loss of revenue to the Treasury. The study must also examine the potential economic impacts of a moratorium on relevant jobs and industry. Once the House and the Senate have had the opportunity to review this study in full, the Department of the Interior may suspend coal leasing on federal lands only if Congress approves the action.
On January 15, 2016, the Department of the Interior announced that it would suspend all coal leasing on federal lands to consider potential reforms to the federal coal program. Utah’s leaders immediately denounced the decision, citing the negative effects a moratorium could have on the state economy. Coal generates 76 percent of Utah’s electricity and helps employ more than 45,000 men and women across the state. Senator Hatch is committed to reversing the President’s actions to protect Utah jobs and secure America’s energy future.