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Biden Lauches Largest Attack Yet On American Coal With New Lease Ban In Powder River Basin

Biden’s ban is his latest move in a push to double down on campaign promises to eliminate fossil fuels with a cascade of regulations.

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The Biden administration is going after western coal producers with new rules published last week that eliminate new coal leases in the nation’s largest coal-producing region.

Last Thursday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced the agency would halt additional leases to mine coal across the Powder River Basin, which runs through southeast Montana and northeast Wyoming and is the most productive stretch of coal reserves in the United States. The Washington Post described the administration’s move as the “biggest step yet to end coal mining.”

Larry Behrens, the spokesman for the energy nonprofit Power the Future, told The Federalist the agency’s decision illustrates a president who holds “nothing but contempt for affordable and reliable energy.”

“It’s also no surprise to see his environmental friends celebrate this terrible decision as their singular goal is to destroy private sector jobs in favor of more heavily subsidized energy failures,” Behrens said. “Every American should remember this decision next time the White House says they’re not responsible for high prices.”

U.S. power prices have outpaced annual inflation with consumer costs up almost 30 percent since President Joe Biden took office, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of government data in April. A report from the House Oversight Committee published Thursday linked the administration’s energy agenda to more than $1 trillion in regulatory costs and high gas prices that eclipsed a nationwide average of $5 per gallon in 2022.

“The Biden Administration weaponized the power of the executive branch to wage a war against American-made energy production and cement in place radical, far-left energy policies that jeopardize domestic energy development, overload America’s power grid, and raise costs on all American consumers and businesses,” said Oversight Chairman James Comer from Kentucky.

President Biden, however, has doubled down on campaign promises to eliminate fossil fuels with a cascade of regulations that will unilaterally make tens of millions of acres of public land off-limits to reliable energy production. Just last month, the Biden Department of the Interior imposed the “maximum protections” for 13 million acres in the western Arctic and denied a road permit to mine an Alaskan copper deposit worth an estimated $7.5 billion.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), meanwhile, has pushed ahead with regulations to mandate car manufacturers sell more electric vehicles despite mineral supply chains remaining dominated by China.

According to an email press release from the BLM reported by the Montana Free Press, the federal land agency made clear existing coal producers will continue to operate on the Powder River Basin for decades.

“It said the Rosebud Mine, which supplies coal to the Colstrip power plant, could continue operating through 2035,” reported the Montana outlet. “The Spring Creek Mine, located near Decker and operated by the Navajo Transitional Energy Company, could continue operating through 2060, per the agency.”

The announcement to eliminate the potential for new leases, however, strikes a remarkable blow to Wyoming as the nation’s leading coal producer. The state’s three-member congressional delegation issued statements last week condemning the administration’s hostile move towards the state’s energy industry.

“This decision to eviscerate Wyoming’s coal production will impact every American’s access to affordable and reliable energy, and only benefits the despots and dictators that this administration now relies on to meet our energy needs, while further weakening our economy and national security,” said Rep. Harriet Hageman.

Sen. Cynthia Lummis said she was “horrified” by the administration’s “latest assault on our nation’s domestic energy production.”

The Wyoming Freedom Caucus placed the decision to gut future coal production “squarely at [Governor Mark Gordon’s] feet.” In a letter to the governor on Wednesday, the coalition of conservative state lawmakers complained Gordon failed to challenge efforts to block Wyoming coal from Pacific markets, efforts which gave the BLM ammunition to justify phasing out coal production on the Powder River Basin.

“In justifying the unethical and illegal decision, the agency cited Wyoming’s failure to secure a coal export terminal in Washington State,” lawmakers noted. “Wyoming’s appeal was denied by the US Supreme Court not on the merits, but on procedural grounds — the State, at your direction, filed our case too late for it to be heard in a timely manner.”

Gordon is now spearheading a movement of neighbor state executives as chair of the Western Governors’ Association to “decarbonize” the West, drawing additional fire from local lawmakers eager to protect constituents’ industries. In February, Wyoming lawmakers in the capital of Cheyenne held a hearing with members of the CO2 Coalition in lieu of a debate the governor agreed to participate in before backing out. The hearing featured a panel of climate experts who sought to discredit the governor’s claims of an emergency need to aggressively eliminate carbon emissions from the atmosphere.

“It is no secret that many legislators disagree with the governor and his stance and policies regarding CO2,” Sen. Cheri Steinmetz said at the hearing. “However, this meeting is strictly about CO2 and related policy issues, and in no way intended to be personal in any way to the governor.”

Dr. William Happer, the founder of the CO2 Coalition, also testified, describing efforts to remove atmospheric carbon as a “religion.”

“If you look around, you need something bigger than yourself … to make your life worthwhile,” Happer said. “What’s better than saving the planet? The problem is the planet doesn’t need saving.”

Contrary to hyperbolic claims of atmospheric carbon producing an environmental Armageddon, CO2 has been shown to proliferate forest growth in a phenomenon known as the “greening” effect. Michael Shellenberger explained in his 2020 book Apocalypse Never, “From 1981 to 2016, four times more carbon was captured by plants due to carbon-boosted growth than from biomass covering a larger surface of Earth.”


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