As the next step in the U.S. Interior Department’s comprehensive review of the federal coal program, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on April 26 announced the dates and locations for a series of public meetings in May and June to solicit public input.
These meetings will provide the public with opportunities to help the BLM identify and evaluate potential reforms to the federal coal program. This announcement follows last month’s publication of a Notice of Intent to conduct a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) on the federal coal program.
“As we begin this review, we are looking forward to hearing from the public about a wide range of issues about the federal coal program,” said BLM Director Neil Kornze. “The information we gather will help shape future decisions about this public resource.”
The BLM is particularly interested in gathering public input on the issues and policies that should be outlined in the PEIS, including topics such as whether Americans are receiving a fair return for federal coal, how market conditions affect coal, how federal coal affects the environment, and how these and other factors impact coal-dependent communities.
In January, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced a comprehensive review that will examine a broad array of concerns about the federal coal program following critical reports issued by the Government Accountability Office and Interior’s Office of the Inspector General; concerns raised by members of Congress and other interested stakeholders; and feedback received from a series of public listening sessions last year in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Washington, D.C.
Written comments may be submitted until July 23, 2016. The Interior Department will release an interim report on the PEIS by the end of 2016. The interim report will contain a summary of substantive comments received during the public scoping period and conclusions from the scoping process about potential planning alternatives results. The comprehensive review is expected to take approximately three years to complete.