NWF lauds new rule on public-lands minerals as important for wildlife

U.S Department of Interior rule will better assess market-value of fossil fuels extracted from public lands

WASHINGTON – A new rule from the U.S Department of Interior that will more accurately assess the market-value of fossil fuels extracted from public lands represents a major step toward ensuring a fair return for American taxpayers and communities and restoring fragmented and degraded wildlife habitat.

The rule as proposed by Interior’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue is an essential step towards ensuring that the American people receive a fair market price from oil, gas and coal production on public lands, said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. Recent reviews, for example, have shown that loopholes allowing companies to sell federal coal to affiliates and subsidiaries have shortchanged American taxpayers and communities out of billions of dollars in revenue from royalties, he added.  Further, a recent report shows the devastating impacts of current extraction practices on the populations of pronghorn, mule deer, and sage grouse.

“Too often wildlife, sportsmen and women, and taxpayers pay the price for the way we allow minerals to be extracted from our public lands.  By making sure that companies pay a fair price for using our public trust resources, we will reduce the impacts on essential habitat for fish and wildlife populations and hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation,” O’Mara said. “Today’s announcement is an important step forward in conserving our outdoor heritage and strengthening local economies, but more is needed. Specifically, we urge the Department of Interior to move forward with reforms to the reclamation process to ensure that critical wildlife habitat is restored and that cleanup costs are fully borne by coal companies, not taxpayers.”

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