“This fundamentally flawed new regulation will kill jobs, result in an unconstitutional tax on coal and bankrupt even more American energy companies”

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after a Secretarial Order was issued by Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell overhauling the federal coal program and halting new coal leases on federal land:

“The endless assault by the Obama Administration on domestic coal is unprecedented and puts the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Americans at risk. The president’s reckless obsession to enact his radical environmental agenda clashes with scientific facts as well as the reality of the economic consequences his disastrous proposals are having on the country.

“Today’s executive overreach is a bureaucratic nightmare that will make it impossible to produce coal on federal lands, including tribal land. If implemented, this fundamentally flawed new regulation will kill jobs, result in an unconstitutional tax on coal and bankrupt even more American energy companies. Clearly, ‘an all-of-the-above approach’ was just a nice talking point pollsters told the president to use, as today’s announcement picks winners and losers and continues the administration’s misguided war on coal.”

Background:

Today, Secretary Jewell announced today through a Secretarial Order that the Department of Interior is instituting at least a three year pause on issuing new coal leases on federal lands so it can undertake a comprehensive review of the federal coal program.

When the Department held a couple public listening sessions in 2015, Congressman Gosar’s District Director drove all the way to the closest one in Farmington, New Mexico to provide comments on the Congressman’s behalf.

Approximately 40% of coal production in the U.S. comes from federal lands. Federal mineral royalty receipts provide important revenues for schools and highways as well as contribute hundreds of millions dollars annually to federal, tribal and state coffers.

The National Mining Association stated, “It is stunning that the administration believes a process that already pushes the development of coal projects beyond a decade needs more red tape and delays.”

The Obama Administration is shamefully trying to justify today’s actions by also tying it to what they call the “Social Cost of Carbon.”

Politico reported yesterday that “One economist said taking into account the social cost of carbon in royalty rates could function similar to a carbon tax. ‘Precisely because we don't have a carbon tax, this would be a way - a second-best, but nevertheless desirable way - to get at the effect of a carbon tax through the royalties on coal,’ said James Stock, a Harvard University professor and a former member of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers. Stock also co-authored an op-ed last year on the issue in The New York Times with former Interior Department official David Hayes.”

The Social Cost of Carbon valuation has already been rejected by the House five times, including a September 25, 2015 amendment offered by Rep. Gosar that passed the House.

The Social Cost of Carbon is a fundamentally flawed model developed by the Obama Administration that aims to thwart energy production and provide cover for new, job-killing regulations. The model can be easily manipulated to arrive at whatever conclusion the administration wants.

Roger Martella, a self-described lifelong environmentalist and career environmental lawyer, testified at the May 2015 House Natural Resources Committee hearing on the revised guidance and the flaws associated with the “Social Cost of Carbon” model, stating that the “Social Cost of Carbon’ estimates suffer from a number of significant flaws that should exclude them [from] the NEPA process…First, projected costs of carbon emissions can be manipulated by changing key parameters such as timeframes, discount rates, and other values that have no relation to a given project undergoing review. As a result, applying social cost of carbon estimates can be used to promote pre-determined policy preferences rather than provide for a fair and objective evaluation of a specific proposed federal action…Second, OMB and other federal agencies developed the draft Social Cost of Carbon estimates without any known peer review or opportunity for public comment during the development process. This process is antithetical to NEPA’s central premise that informed agency decision making must be based on transparency and open dialogue with the public…Third, OMB’s draft Social Cost of Carbon estimates are based primarily on global rather than domestic costs and benefits. This is particularly problematic for NEPA reviews because the Courts have established that agencies cannot consider transnational impacts in NEPA reviews…Fourth, there is still considerable uncertainty in many of the assumptions and data elements used to create the draft Social Cost of Carbon estimates, such as the damage functions and modeled time horizons. In light of the lack of transparency in the OMB’s process, these concerns over accuracy are particularly problematic.”

Congressman Gosar believes that Mr. Martella’s testimony was spot on. Congress, not Washington bureaucrats at the behest of the president, should dictate our country’s climate change and energy policy. These sweeping new changes that are seeking to be implemented by the White House have not gone through the normal regulatory process.   back...
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