April 5, 2018 Read More →

Few New Leases on Federal Coal Tracts 1 Year After Moratorium Reversal

S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):

A year after the Trump administration lifted a controversial moratorium on federal coal leases, both approvals and new applications are scarce as industry challenges show little sign of abating.

“I don’t think there is a whole lot of interest in new coal leasing,” said Mark Squillace, director of the Natural Resources Law Center at the University of Colorado Law School. “It doesn’t seem like, despite all efforts to promote the coal industry by the Trump administration, that much has changed.”

While strong export demand has given some recent respite to the coal industry, domestic coal plant retirements threaten long-term demand and the new economic reality has led some coal producers to greatly reduce the amount of coal reserves they expect to be financially feasible to mine. As market prospects diminish, so does the demand for new federal coal leases.

BLM documents indicate that since the moratorium was lifted, expansion applications have been rescinded at Peabody’s Rawhide mine, Peter Kiewit Sons’ Inc.’s Buckskin mine, Arch’s Black Thunder operation and Contura Energy Inc.’s Belle Ayr mine, which was later bought by Blackjewel LLC.

“These companies are not proposing new leases — they are withdrawing the applications they had pending. There is no interest in federal coal leases right now, at least in Wyoming,” said Shannon Anderson, an organizer with the Powder River Basin Resource Council, a nonprofit environmental group.

More ($): Federal coal leases see limited progress a year after moratorium is lifted

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