President Obama: 3 Year Moratorium on New Coal Mines

Open cut hard rock mining (Kalgoorlie, Western Australia) author Stephen Codrington source Wikimedia

Open cut hard rock mining (Kalgoorlie, Western Australia) author Stephen Codrington source Wikimedia

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

President Obama has just announced a 3 year moratorium on leasing federal land for new coal mines, pending a review of the impact of coal on the global climate.

According to Scientific American;

Obama Halts Federal Coal Leasing Citing Climate Change

The U.S. temporarily halts coal leasing on federal lands to reassess its policy in light of global warming

The Obama administration on Friday brought a temporary halt to new coal mining leases on federal lands while it conducts a three-year review meant to bring coal leasing in line with U.S. climate policy.

The moratorium comes just days after Obama said in his State of the Union Address that he would push to change the way the government manages its oil and coal resources to reflect the costs they impose on both taxpayers and the planet. The moratorium takes place immediately, but does not halt coal mining and production currently underway.

“How do we manage the program that is consistent with our climate change objective? There is no short answer,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said during a news conference. “It is also clear that we need to take into account the science we have now on the environment and climate change.”

About 40 percent of all the coal produced in the U.S. comes from mines on federal public lands, mainly in the West. As of the end of 2014, there were 308 active coal mining leases on more than 464,000 acres of public lands in Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Montana and Colorado, with an additional 10,500 acres in Kentucky, Alabama and West Virginia.

Burning coal and other fossil fuels for electricity is the largest single source of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change, accounting for about 31 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gases.

Read more:

Obviously this is a potentially devastating development, for American families who depend on jobs in the US coal mining industry.

However there is another less obvious impact; As a result of failed green energy policies, Europe is becoming increasingly reliant on imports of cheap goal coal from America. If that supply of cheap coal is now threatened, the result might well be an economically damaging spike in already sky high European energy prices.

140 thoughts on “President Obama: 3 Year Moratorium on New Coal Mines

    • Maybe, maybe not. I’ve seen that trick pulled before, back when I was a political activist; “we have to do this for appearances, but really we plan to…”.
      Its anyone’s guess what the real plan is – if in fact it turns out to be a double cross to the people who were given the secret assurances, the people whose opposition was appeased by the assurances will be left out in the cold, because all the politician has to do is stick to their “public commitments”, and deny that any secret assurances were ever provided.

      • Eric: Gosh, that’s awfully cynical. I have formulated my own theory, which is really scientific, because it’s based on observed data and produces repeated results with robust predictive capacity. Here it is: Progressive Dems will lie to test how far the progressive press is willing to go to report the content of the lie while avoiding exposing the lie. (Yeah, yeah, R’s lie too, blah blah-I have a theory about that as well, but for another post.) And we still have not seen the high end anomaly (ooh, just thought of that one! Sounds pretty scientific, eh?).
        My data is the public record (“if you like your doctor, your plan, costs will go down…”; “Internet video…”; “Only one device for my convenience…”; “CAGW happening out your window, causing drought, rain, snow, and drought… and rain…and…). Repeatedly reported by press, but never analyzed by prog. press. Therefore, I submit the following prediction (if I’m wrong, will become a projection, but not much risk of that)- President will declare that, as a result of his actions (Paris, stopping Keystone, Michelle’s veganism), we’ve turned some corner, and seas won’t rise, earth saved, yada yada (yes, I’m predicting “yada yada”). And prog. press will cheer, reporting little-known satellite measurements showing the warming has slowed while stressing other statements (use Holdren for this) re: critical to keep sacrificing. Time will tell.

    • Dozens of lawsuits. It’s a wedge the Greens will use to tie up the process. Imagine. A compliant judge issues an injunction pending the review, etc. Then, even if the next President reverses the original Executive Order, more litigation, etc. It could be years, literally, before resolution.
      It’s not very likely the Congress will pass a law baring the courts from review under Article III’s ” with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.”
      It’s not very likely the states will persuade the Federals to divest themselves of current Federal land in favor of the States which would shift all property within a State to be owned by that State(s).
      It’s actually more likely the States may call for an Article V convention.
      Bottom line is the action, imho, it this will survive long after Obama becomes a permanent organizer in his Office of the Post-President, complete with Seal. Under any alternative. There’s just too many activist judges in the Federal system.

  1. Hi from Oz. Two things: Given the low price of coal at the moment, I cannot see anyone rushing to open a new coal mine in the US. And if they did, there is probably plenty of coal-bearing private land to choose from. Sounds to me like just another clever “sounds good but doesn’t mean anything” announcement by Obama. Roll on 2017.

    • This is an event in principle only, unless the next president continues it. The price of coal in the US is so low right now that the entire industry is on the verge of bankruptcy with once healthy companies dropping like flies (PCX, JRCC, ANR, Arch, the list goes on). I would be surprised if there is even a single company seeking to open a new mine in the US at this time.

      • All commodity prices are low because the global economy is collapsing. Very little new wealth is being created which is why all governments are cash strapped and borrowing themselves into oblivion. A good to look at it to get a good understanding of what’s happening, is look at it as being one big Detroit.

      • Cruz was born in Canada of American parents so I understand? The reason why George Romney couldn’t be president because he was born in Mexico of American parents.

      • Ted Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father. The Naturalization Act of 1795 clearly states that a person born outside the U. S. is an American citizen at birth if one of the parents is an American and the father has previously resided in the U.S. Cruz’s parents meet those requirements. The only question that needs to be answered is : did his mother ever claim Canadian citizenship or vote in Canada. If so, and there does not seem to be any evidence of this although I do not know how much investigation has been done.
        If someone uses the Naturalization Act of 1790 in their argument please advise them that this act was repealed and replaced by the Naturalization Act of 1795.
        For the record I am not a Cruz supporter but the truth is the truth. And personally I wish the Congress would pass a Constitutional Amendment to clear this up. My suggestion would be to clearly state that in order to be President a natural born citizen MUST be born within the borders of the United States and both parents must be American citizens, natural or naturalized. The only exception would be if the person was born outside the U S to parents both of whom are American citizens and who are outside the U S as an official of the U S government on official government business.

      • If he was a citizen at birth, then he is a natural born citizen.
        There are only two types of citizens, naturalized and natural born.
        It’s a complete myth that you have to have been born in the US to be eligible for president.

  2. ” Europe is becoming increasingly reliant on imports of cheap goal from America ” ?????
    Europe may someday share our ” GOALS ” , but I think you meant ” COAL ” !!
    I could be wrong ! LOL

  3. Well, for Europe there is always Russian or Qatari gas. Better than American woodchips or solar panels at 50+ degrees north. Of course, there could be a pipeline war or two in all that…but we seem to be getting better at ignoring geopolitics in the search for “clean” energy.
    Then there’s the South Australian option. Reduce your region to green beggary but have coal generating neighbours to take the hit for your carbon. (That neighbour needs the money to pay for an unused desal plant costing millions a week – because the usual media kiddies said there’d be drought forever, just before the last big La Nina dump.)
    Have we reached Peak Adult?

  4. What more studies (reviews) are needed? We’ve been told that the current Administration knows all the evils of coal, and the EPA will shut down all coal-fired plants. Or are they now going to study the evils of mining the coal, rather than the evils of the coal itself? Or is this just three-years more gravy train for those who conduct such reviews?

    • Curiously, this seems to me to be the elephant in the room: not climate change. I am not usually cynical but my nose twitched when I saw the word “review”. It always smells of money.

  5. Real atmospheric pollutants from coal such as particulates, NOX and sulfur must be attended to. Not doing so, as the Chinese are experiencing, especially with the smog in Beijing, is not acceptable. The US uses precipitators to remove the real pollutants).
    Compelling evidence CO2 has no effect on climate is presented in a peer reviewed paper at
    The two factors that caused average global temperature change for at least the last 300 years or so (97% match since before 1900) are identified at

  6. A political stunt. US does not need new mines at present. And can be undone by executive order of the next Pres. Vote wisely if you are a US citizen.

  7. Why stop with crowd- pleasing, but meaningless half- measures, Mr. President? Show us that you are a man with the courage to live up to his convictions. Go all in and order the halt of all fossil fuel usage in the United States.
    While you’re at it- go ahead and issue a presidential order to ban all private ownership of firearms. You can do it. Your political base will love you even more.

      • He’s still hoping that that thing in Oregon will grow into a large scale right-wing revolt — or that he can provoke one another way. He’s got 12 months left for his “Reichstag fire” to happen so he can promote himself to dictator-for-life. But I don’t think it will happen — even Trump voters have more brains than he does.

        • Are you ever curious how Jarrett gets her strategic orders ?
          Surely, we all don’t sit around and believe that VJ and BO think these things up on their own.
          Who are they talking to ?

  8. We’re about to see $1 a gal, or lower, gas prices…..and our pet idiot wants to figure out what coal does….after closing the coal plants
    I obviously need to adjust my meds

  9. Obama said ISIS is “contained” the day before the attacks in Paris, he said ISIS was not a threat in the U.S. hours before the San Bernardino attacks happened and in his State of the Union address on Tuesday he said “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction” by the close on Friday the Stock market dropped over 550 points. He also said in his speech both sides have to “work together” to get things done just days after vetoing the health care bill.

  10. What you should have learned is you can’t trust Wikimedia for image captions. Looks more like a central Queensland coal mine.

  11. The actions of a 5th Columnist. Who is he working for? Where is the FBI? Where is the House Committee for Unamerican Activities?

  12. You know, I’ve heard stories where whole factories are built in India but are never opened for operation. Indian politicians won’t allow them to be connected to the utilities because the politicians don’t think that those are jobs worthy of Indian labor.
    Why is Obama taking us down a similar path?

  13. Wasn’t his pal Soros buying up coal companies recently?
    Is this some sort of wrangling for a UN gig in a couple of years? Or some sort of money funnel like the Clintons do with their bullshit?
    In any event – I detect shenanigans.

    • The moratorium does not apply to metallurgical coal, which is used to make steel, or to coal leasing on tribal land.

      I hear there is a test, but it will be open book.

  14. I said up-line that he’s an “idiot” because he doesn’t seem to realize that cheap energy – cheap electricity is the key to prosperity. Prosperity is something he is not in favor of. (Except maybe for Iran, and other Muslim countries for some reason.)
    Prosperity in any country will counter any effects that severe weather events bestow upon the country/city/communities, etc.

    • Cheap energy is nice. One of the reasons the most of the public doesn’t get rattled about higher cost of energy is that they are conditioned to believe that they are a wasteful people. Safe spaces to quietly lash yourself in the darkness will be part of future LEED Gold Star awards.

      • Well there is a mountain here in the North Cherokee National Forest named for him, Big Butt, and a portion of Norris Lake near Knoxville commemorates his administration, Do Help Me Holler (that’s Hollow for all you Yankees and other furriners).

  15. Yeah, I can see how closing down Federal coal leasing in the US will cause 2,400 coal-fired power plants in China to clean up their environmental impact.
    Or NOT!

  16. It won’t be his face on Mt. Rushmore, it will be the other part of his anatomy to remind Americans what a Jack @ss he was !! LOL

  17. Depending on how one interprets the “climate goals” of the Paris accord (which doesn’t even have Congressional approval), even a 3-year EIS cannot determine the global impact of any given Federal lease. The folks most immediately impacted are large Western coal mines who are close to reaching the outer limits of their current lease areas; extensions and additions to their lease areas, if they are included in this closure, would mean their closure in 2016-17. Truly, I think this administration thinks that the only jobs worth having in this country involve sitting at a Starbucks, pushing digits into the Net-sphere.

    • ” I think this administration thinks that the only jobs worth having in this country involve sitting at a Starbucks”
      There are more jobs in solar installations at the moment than in coal. Well, except Nevada thanks to their GOP legislature. A state with no coal and lots of sunshine. What a waste.

      • There could be lots of jobs hiring some people to go around breaking windows and others to fix the broken windows. The Nevada legislature apparently has decided that economics trumps “saving the planet”. Go figure.

      • I can’t have solar panels. NV Energy has contracted with reliable and continuous sources at a wholesale rate to supply my electricity. Now some rich dudes expect me to pay them retail rates for the sunshine that falls on their roofs during the day when they doesn’t need the extra electricity. And neither do I.
        It costs all the ratepayers money. Think about it. Does somebody say, “Okay, everybody working in the geothermal, natural gas, and coal-fired plants, shut down and go home because the sun is shining.”
        No. We end up paying duplicate for both the reliable and the unreliable energy sources.
        The installers knew there was a cap, and they reached it. The solar owners will still be paid wholesale rates for the electricity they produce. Frankly, they should just be happy with their energy savings and leave it at that.

  18. There is a states rights issue brewing out West. While the occupiers might have forgotten their snacks, the ranchers, miners and loggers are fed up with Federal Land Management. States are going to start challenging this Federal overreach.

  19. A buddy of mine has said, the most renewable resource on this planet is people. Trees take 80 or more years to grow fully but people take less than 18 years (less in 3rd world countries). With this sort of turnover rate it is no wonder it is the easiest resource to cultivate (i.e. the tax payer).

  20. This man is poison to the US economy, and the chickens are finaly coming home to roost…and we will all pay the price.

    • Well, not all of us. Money has been leaving the equity markets in earnest since mid 2015. Top tier investors were some of the first to get out on American markets. The casino treats its big players better.

  21. We are killing all these jobs for this fraud? The ironly of the fact that the Modern Democratic Party was essentialy started under FDR largely due to John L Lewis of the Coal Unions. Rely on the Democrats at your own Peril.

  22. John L Lewis

    He switched to Roosevelt in a strategic move designed to squeeze “concessions” out of the Democratic administration. Experience soon demonstrated that the Democratic Party and the president would hamper and restrict the CIO whenever possible without making it too obvious. However, Lewis went through his whole CIO period without unmasking Roosevelt. Then, when Lewis, enraged by the rightward and warlike course of the administration, broke with Roosevelt, he was helpless before the Roosevelt myth which he himself had helped create and spread in the labor movement.

  23. Permits for Coal mining is not the only ones delayed. All new and extended mining permits have been put on hold. The ObamaNation only has one more year to collapse the American economy. Remember; the Fundamental Change of America!…pg

  24. From Wikipedia:
    “The United States uses about 1 billion tons of coal a year, with about 40 percent of the coal currently coming from the Powder River Basin of Wyoming…Almost all of the coal in the Powder River Basin is federally owned and further mine expansions will require a series of federal and state approvals…”

  25. “…ranchers, miners and loggers are fed up with Federal Land Management. States are going to start challenging this Federal overreach.”
    Yeah, it’s just criminal the way the ranchers are having to pay 15% of the leasing rate charged by the private sector. How dare the federal government charge them for using public lands!

  26. “At this point, it is obvious that the President and his administration won’t be satisfied until coal is completely eradicated from our energy mix. Their foolish crusade takes away one of America’s greatest strengths—our diverse mix of energy sources. If the President wants electricity rates to skyrocket—as he once said he did—he’s on the right path.”

    If you want an idea to stick, you have to keep at it.
    Institutionalize it.
    It doesn’t matter if each of your moves amount to tangible progress..
    It’s the image of the thing. The brand.
    They are a persistent bunch.
    Reevaluating the “true” price of coal is what they want.
    Thinkspeak it to be more expensive than it should be and voila’.

  27. There seems to be a lot of confusion in that the original post headlines a moratorium on NEW COAL MINES, and the quoted Scientific American article reports a temporary halt to NEW COAL LEASES on federal lands. Big difference. In coal producing Western States, where surface mining techniques dominate (Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, for examples), mines were developed in areas with coal deposits close to the surface and the majority of available coal is on federal land. Existing mines rely on federal leases as the lifeblood of the mine for continuing operation. In short, shutting down the coal leasing program will eventually shut down the mines that need them to replenish coal that has been mined. No leases, no coal to mine, no mine. A point of information; there have been very few large scale mines developed in recent years, and that will not change until there is a change at the top.

  28. Soros Steyn and others of that ilk already are doing that and if you want to get on the band wagon 2-3 years from now those companies will be back on their feet with different management and after the chapter 11 BS is finished, just like they did with the Auto industry. ( Oh they are still shipping coal to China and India of course). The whole thing is a game to them I can’t wait for mother nature to take it’s course with these old timers.

  29. You’re absolutely right…there is, and will never be, any coal mining in Kalgoorle (absolutely nothing to do with whacky global warming policies though). As a geologist who has worked at Kalgoorlie, Western Australia this looks like the KCGM Superpit to me…the largest gold mine in Australia run by Newmont and Barrick Mining. The rocks in the pit formed at least 2200 million years before the first plants lived on earth and thus long before the first coal formed. Still not a big enough hole to fit all the AGW idiots into though, but not small enough for Al Gore’s ego.

  30. The two prongs of WW IV are now in full swing.
    Prong one: the propaganda war, cultural Marxism (Political Correctness) and Climate Change, the disaster movie and
    Prong two: Control of Fossil energy, having seen off Nuclear by means of propaganda.
    Fracking in the USA & Iran ready to pump its guts out, and who suffers? the countries we love to hate, that wear towels on their heads, drink vodka or exist on S America

  31. Obama is a man who knows how to topple the “great Satan” – from the inside. He’s done more in 8 years to destabilize this nation than decades of cold war ever could. He showed the world that the constitutional safeguards of the three branches of government cannot stop a determined man from undoing the greatest experiment in the history of the world. I’m just left wondering what he got out of it aside from the great golf and vacations.

  32. “Burning coal and other fossil fuels for electricity is the largest single source of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change, accounting for about 31 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gases” – Scientific American
    Still doesn’t prove that our emissions are behind any climate change.

    • True, but these greenhouse gasses directly contribute to a 15% increase in world-wide foodstuff production, valued at roughly $1.5 trillion annually.
      They never admit there’s any benefit to fossil fuel emissions–if they did, they’d become the laughingstock of the world.
      Oh, wait! They already are!

  33. The old song “sixteen tons” and climate forecasting:
    Some people say people are made outta mud
    Alarmists and warmists, they’re chewing their cud,
    Chewing their cud and follow Al Gore
    A mind that’s a-weak can you ask for much more?
    More than one megawatt, and what did they get?
    Another prognosis and deeper in debt
    Saint Peter don’t you call ’em ’cause you must let ‘em be
    They sold their souls to the IPCC.
    They came in one mornin’ when the sun didn’t shine
    They picked up their papers and continued the grind
    They had sixteen conditions, mostly falsified bull
    And the straw boss said “Well, a-bless my soul”.
    More than one megawatt, and what did they get?
    Another prognosis and deeper in debt
    Saint Peter don’t you call ’em ’cause you must let ‘em be
    They sold their souls to the IPCC.
    They came in one mornin’, it was drizzelin’ rain
    their prognoses had failed them again and again
    The boss harshly told them, You will do many more
    Do as I tell you, and agree with Al Gore.
    More than one megawatt, and what did they get?
    Another prognosis and deeper in debt
    Saint Peter don’t you call ’em ’cause you must let ‘em be
    They sold their souls to the IPCC.
    The threatenin’ drought, it just didn’t last.
    and hidin’ the warming that occurred in the past
    Their ol’ man Mann and his hockey stick.
    Conditions like that nothing ever will click.
    More than one megawatt, and what did they get?
    Another prognosis and deeper in debt
    Saint Peter don’t you call ’em ’cause you must let ‘em be
    They sold their souls to the IPCC.

  34. this moratorium is valid until about noon on January 20th, 2017…
    President Trump can fix this too… 😉

  35. A big hole of coal – may be difficult to see a Barack Obama standing at the bottom of it.
    But there he is. When you’re in a hole, stop digging; is the usual advice.
    But the president is digging like a Stakhanovite.
    US citizens are growing sick and tired of climate alarmism and its transparent dishonesty.
    But Barack is making climate the flagship of his presidency,
    dooming his party to November defeat.

  36. The actual length of the “3-year moratorium” will be less than the 11 months left in Obama’s Regime. Time to buy KOL and TONS and ride them up.

    • I’m sure Obama thinks the next President will respect his wishes, just like he would have respected a George Bush moratorium restricting transfers out of Gitmo. /Sarc

  37. If the goal is to move to another power generation paradigm, the first step is not to dismantle the existing power generation system but rather leverage it.
    The current administration has now been in office longer than the time between JFK’s “before this decade is out …” speech and the moon landing. Imagine if this administration had vision from the outset.
    Imagine if the early goal within this power generation shift had been to focus on the transition of Washington D.C. (federal land) to be entirely electric. With the idea of all power for transport, heat, construction etc. being electric within DC, we could leverage the massive coal deposits of West Virginia to produce the power necessary for the transition and subsequently to power the new electric infrastructure. And then to power the construction of the new power generation system whatever that may be.
    We would see in a real world example the logistics of how well windmills/solar/hydro can sustain and meet all the requirements of a sizable urban center, and if it succeeds then we can extend this paradigm throughout the northeast corridor.

    • … and once we acknowledge that CO2 is beneficial to carbon-based life forms and the carbon cycle of life, then we could learn how to burn the coal where it resides in West Virginia and transport the power not the coal to the new grid.

  38. Politicians push down the value of these companies so that their buddies, including George Soros, can swoop in and buy them for bargain basement prices.

  39. Nuclear Energy Institute periodically provides an energy market report for the US power industry.
    “The mix of generating units that supply electricity in the United States is undergoing a significant transformation. Many older coal plants are being decommissioned as the industry adapts to sustained low costs of competing natural gas generating units and the effects of environmental regulations.”
    Since I have retired, I have not closely followed the market. The closest thing to a flat line is the cost of coal to make electricity. Magically ‘decommissioned’ coal plants start making power again.
    Mild winters and summers make for cheap natural gas. I am old school. Making power with natural gas should be criminal. We need to heat our homes and dry crops. Those who fail to learn the lessons of history ….

  40. I see increased fighting over the concept of “federal lands”. States are soon going to unilaterally declare the return to the state of lands stolen by the fed. So far it has been the ranchers that have been making this fight. Obama is now spreading the fight to the blue collar coal workers (and their powerful unions).

  41. This may be unconventional war.
    This forces focus on natural gas including obviously shale plays. Of course, those shale plays also yield unimaginable quantities of oil.
    Yesterday I heard that there are gas stations selling Regular for 80 cents a gallon in the Upper Midwest.
    And meanwhile, OPEC are freakin’ freakin’!

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