Barack Obama promised an overhaul of coal mining on public lands on Tuesday, delivering a major blow to the ailing industry.
In his final State of the Union address, the US president said he would push for changes to the leasing of public lands for oil, coal and gas leases at cut-rate prices, saying: “Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future.”
The move follows a listening tour last year by Sally Jewell, the interior secretary, during which she explored leasing programmes on public lands and the collapse of the coal mining industry due to low prices.
Environmental groups had planned major campaigns around the government’s leasing programme for 2016, arguing that continued fossil fuel extraction on public lands was undermining Obama’s efforts to fight climate change.
After insisting in his first term on an “all of the above” energy policy that promoted expansion of oil, gas and coal, Obama now appears to agree with scientists who say catastrophic climate change cannot be avoided without strict limits on fossil fuel extraction.
“I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet,” he said in the speech.
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