The legislation formally known as the Certainty for States and Tribes Act was introduced May 19. It is co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi of Wyoming and U.S. Reps. Cynthia Lummis of Alabama, David McKinley of West Virginia, Scott Tipton of Colorado, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Bruce Westerman of Arkansas and Bill Johnson of Ohio.
It has been designed, according to the group, to provide the flexibility needed to keep mines running and protect thousands of miners’ jobs. Specifically, it will reinstate the Royalty Policy Committee, an advisory board that has been comprised of state governors, appointees and Indian tribes that produce federal minerals. The group is tasked with informing the secretary of the interior regarding the establishment of mineral and energy policies and regulations.
The legislation would also place a “firm and reasonable timeline” of three years on the government’s current review of the federal coal leasing program.
“It is important to reinstate the Royalty Policy Committee so that states and tribes most impacted by federal coal leasing, the real experts on this program, have a meaningful say,” Sen. Enzi said. “The Certainty for States and Tribes Act would help provide the states this opportunity. It would also put a critical check on interior’s review of the federal coal program so that it can’t drag on for years on end without a time limit or accountability.”
As Sen. Barrasso noted, the current administration’s plan to raise royalties for coal as well as oil and gas is an “effort to appease reckless and extreme environmentalists,” and joined Enzi in a push to once again form the Royalty Policy Committee. “Our bill gives voice to communities that are impacted most by the secretary of the interior’s decisions. It will also prevent the secretary from continuing to wreak economic havoc within Rocky Mountain states and Indian tribes.”
From the operations side, one early supporter of the Act has been Cloud Peak Energy.
“Cloud Peak Energy believes that it is critical for transparency in the setting of royalty and leasing policies for minerals on federal lands that the Royalty Policy Committee, which the secretary of interior effectively dismissed before commencing changes to such policies, be reestablished and strongly supports the goal of this legislation to do so,” Colin Marshall, president and CEO, said this week.
The Certainty for States and Tribes Act is also known as SB 2938 and HB 5259.