Greenpeace report says most coal mined by big producers comes from public lands

A Greenpeace report published March 17 shows that the top three coal mining companies depend on federal coal for the majority of coal they mine in the United States.

Using data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the report calculates the amount of federal coal mined in 2014 by Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU) Arch Coal, and Cloud Peak Energy (NYSE:CLD) and compares those figures to each company’s total domestic coal production.

The results show that federal coal accounted for 68% of the total coal mined domestically by Peabody Energy; 83% for Arch; and 88% for Cloud Peak Energy.

In part because of their access to subsidized federal coal, these companies have grown to become the three largest coal producers, accounting for about 40% of all the coal mined in the United States, Greenpeace said.

“Coal companies like Peabody are biting the hand that feeds, attacking federal policies like the Clean Power Plan even while they depend on federal coal for most of the coal they mine,” said Greenpeace Energy Campaign Director Kelly Mitchell,

“Secretary Jewell should build on the moratorium on new coal leasing by permanently eliminating these corporate giveaways and realigning federal coal management with US climate commitments,” Mitchell said.

For decades, the federal coal program has given coal mining companies access to publicly owned coal “at subsidized rates, with minimal consideration of the impacts to communities and the environment when that coal is mined, transported, and burned,” Greenpeace said in its introduction.

“Indeed, when Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced a moratorium on new federal coal leasing and a comprehensive review of the federal coal program, she acknowledged that in the past, “our practice was really about getting as much coal as possible.”

The federal government does not publish details showing the amount of federal coal produced from each mine or by company, Greenpeace said.


About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at