Rep. Cartwright Introduces Legislation to Eliminate Coal Royalty Loophole; Invest Funds in Appalachian Coal Community Development Initiatives
Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright introduced the Coal Royalty Fairness and Communities Investment Act of 2015, a bill that would provide $100 million to struggling coal communities to help build economic resilience, diversify industries, and promote new job creation opportunities; ensure fair returns on publicly owned coal; and improve the transparency of the federal coal program.
“Significant decreases in demand for coal power generation have negatively impacted workers and communities that have relied on the coal industry for decades,” Rep. Cartwright said, member of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources. “This legislation will assist struggling coal communities throughout the Appalachian Region overcome the challenges associated with changing natural resources markets”
In addition, $5 million dollars will be allocated towards funding the design, construction, and operation of large-scale projects to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from industrial sources.
The focus of the legislation is to assist struggling coal communities diversify their economies, increase human capital development, and stimulate economic growth.
To fund these investments, the legislation will close coal royalty loopholes in the federal coal royalty payment system, loopholes that coal companies have exploited for decades to avoid paying royalties on federal coal.
Recent reports and investigations from the Government Accountability Office and the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of the Interior have revealed that the government is not collecting full royalty payments from private mining companies extracting coal from public lands. Some coal mining companies are selling coal to subsidiaries at artificially low prices to decrease royalty payments. A recent Headwaters Economics report found that coal sales to subsidiaries and other non-competitive activities cost the federal government as much as $139 million in royalty payments every year. As a result, the bill would be deficit positive and provide additional funding to States that produce coal on federal land while improving transparency in the coal market.