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Interior Secretary Endorses Wyo Coal [AUDIO]

Coal conveyor, Michael Smith, Newsmakers, Getty Images
Coal conveyor, Michael Smith, Newsmakers, Getty Images

The Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Gov. Matt Mead held a press conference in Cheyenne Wednesday. The much anticipated “major energy announcement” was the sale of coal leases for the Powder River Basin.

Coal leases for sale this year:

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“These four lease sales, together when you combine the amount of coal that is there, are estimated to have 758 million tons of mine-able, low sulfur coal. This announcement is significant for the United States and is significant for Wyoming’s economy.”

Secretary Salazar said that Wyoming produces about 40 percent of the nation’s coal for electrical power generation.

The Interior secretary also said that Wyoming had energy resources such as wind, and that renewable energy was part of the energy mix President Obama envisions for the nation’s energy future.

Gov. Matt Mead said he appreciated the announcement and tied energy production to quality of life for people.

Energy equates to quality of life:

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“Energy and the production of energy adds to our ability to build homes, to put more people in cars; what it really does is it provides more people an opportunity to live the American dream, and so we are so please with this announcement regarding coal today, because coal, as you said, is a big deal here in Wyoming, and is the foundation of electricity in the country.”

Jeremy Nichols, with WildEarth Guardians, said the announcement contradicted the Interior Department’s purported transition to clean energy.

Coal is not clean energy:

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“We sure can’t achieve a clean energy future by mining 758 million tons of new coal in this country. We’re fairly disappointed at this, and I think it’s a disturbing sign that Secretary Salazar, really when it comes to clean energy, he’s simply blowing hot air. And unfortunately, it’s not really advancing this country; it’s not helping open doors for clean energy development.”

To further make his point, Nichols added the perspective of time.

Pushing coal into the future:

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“Coal mines right now in the Powder River Basin all have 10 or more years of existing coal reserves to mine out. There is no need to rush to leash in the Powder River Basin; 758 million tons is not going to get mined tomorrow. It probably won’t get mined for 15, 20, maybe even 30 years down the road. So we’re talking about mines that are simply looking to pad their assets right now.”

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