Daines, Zinke Introduce Legislation to Give States & Tribes Say in Energy Development

U.S. CONGRESS — U.S. Senator Steve Daines and U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke today introduced bicameral legislation to protect Montana coal jobs from the Obama administration’s recent moratorium on new federal coal leases and ensure that states and tribes have a significant voice in any changes to federal coal, oil, gas royalties or leasing policy.

The Certainty for States and Tribes Act, S.2938 and H.R. 5259, provides critical flexibility needed to keep Montana mines open, protect thousands of good-paying jobs and provide needed support for government and community services. 

“The Obama administration has completely ignored the will and well-being of Montanans and coal-producing states and tribes,” Daines stated. “My bill gives certainty to states and tribes and is critical to protecting thousands of good-paying union and tribal jobs.”

“The Obama Administration has unilaterally stripped Montana’s and the Crow’s voices from the conversation about how we can mine and use our own coal resources,” Zinke stated. “It’s a shame I even had to introduce this bill and that Congress has to codify the ability for the American people to weigh in on our own livelihoods.” 

The Certainty for States and Tribes Act is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) and U.S. Representatives Cynthia Lummis (WY-AL), David McKinley (WV-01), Scott Tipton (CO-03), Paul Gosar (AZ-04), Kevin Cramer (ND-AL), Bruce Westerman (AR-04) and Bill Johnson (OH-06).

U.S. Senator John Barrasso (WY): “The Obama administration’s plan to raise royalty rates on federal coal, oil, and gas is yet another effort to appease reckless and extreme environmentalists. By reestablishing 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.”

U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (WY): “As I told the BLM at today’s public meeting in Casper, the people of Wyoming already know the value of coal mined on federal land. This bill would reinstitute 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. The bill also ensures that the programmatic environmental impact statement of the program can’t drag on for years on end without a time limit or accountability.”

U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (WY-At large): “Any review of the federal coal program must involve meaningful consultation with states, tribes, and industry.  I am proud to join with Representative Ryan Zinke and Senator Steve Daines of Montana and Wyoming Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso to introduce the Certainty for States and Tribes Act.  This legislation would reconstitute the Royalty Policy Committee, require the committee’s input on any proposed changes to royalty policy rates, and place a 3 year deadline on the completion of the federal coal program review.  The bill would also take steps to ensure coal leasing can continue during the course of the review, instead of letting Secretary Jewell’s moratorium on coal lease sales to continue indefinitely.” 

Congressman and Coal Caucus President, David B. McKinley, P.E.: “I want to commend both Congressman Zinke and Senator Daines for introducing the Certainty for States and Tribes Act.  This bill will go a long way in combating this Administration’s anti-fossil fuel agenda and ensuring future access to our most affordable and reliable energy sources.” 

Daines’ and Zinke’s legislation is supported by Montanans and key stakeholders:

Ashley Dennehy, Colstrip United Co-Founder: “The Certainty for States and Tribes Act is a great piece of legislation because it puts the power back into the hands of the experts. It allows states, Indian tribes, and other stakeholders to have a say in the policies that impact them directly. As a Montanan it makes me proud to know that Senator Daines and Representative Zinke are working for a better relationship with the Department of the Interior. I hope that this will save coal towns like mine, and give us the opportunity to prosper and keep Montana an energy exporter for many years to come. By putting the people who are directly impacted in the position of advising our federal leaders you are putting a real-world experience on the policies.”

Musselshell County Commissioners: “The State of Montana and the Musselshell county’s fiscal health and stability are directly tied to the coal industry. Musselshell County is very dependent on the health and vitality of the coal industry. The legislation Senator Daines and Congressman Zinke are proposing will ensure the voices of our communities, state and industry are being heard and good policy is being made. The Musselshell County commission fully supports the Certainty for States and Tribes Act which will provide the stability needed for the Signal Peak Energy Mine to continue to operate in Musselshell County as well as provide the necessary mitigation our community, state and coal industry need for certainty about future decisions concerning coal leases.” 

Alan Olson, Executive Director Montana Petroleum Association: “The proposed legislation would once again allow all affected parties a seat at the table in regards to Federal mineral leasing decisions. We have many small independent oil and gas producers in Montana that will find benefit in an open and inclusive process.” 

Hal Quinn, President and CEO, National Mining Association: “The legislation being introduced by Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) brings fairness, stakeholder input, and transparency to the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) activities related to the Mineral Leasing Act. It’s introduction also coincides with the first of six DOI’s public scoping meetings designed to ‘fix’ a program that isn’t broken. NMA supports the introduction and passage of the Certainty for States and Tribes Act.” 

Bud Clinch, Montana Coal Council: “The Montana Coal Council and its member companies applaud Senator Daines and Representative Zinke for introducing “The Certainty Act”. Nothing is more important to any business than “certainty”, clarity of the process and the regulatory requirements. Absent the sideboards provided in this legislation it’s likely the government process will drag on indefinitely, further stifling production, employment and much needed revenue generation that could benefit workers, communities, and state coffers.” 

Darrin Old Coyote, Crow Tribal Chairman: “Coal is vital to the Crow people, and we appreciate Senator Daines’ and Representative Ryan Zinke’s inclusion of coal-producing Tribes on the Royalty Policy Committee that the Certainty Act would re-charter.” 

Colin Marshall, Cloud Peak Energy President and CEO: “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.” 

Doug Martens, Rosebud County Commissioner: “The coal mine in Rosebud County is currently applying for a mining expansion permit for three sections of Federal Coal. There is a good chance this coal lease moratorium will result in the loss of these applications. The mine will have no choice but to mine around the Federal land and once that happens, that federal coal will never be mined. That means those royalty taxes to the county, state and federal government are simply lost. The Certainty Act will give communities more input and certainty on federal leasing policy to ensure communities get the return on investment they should.”

The Certainty for States and Tribes Act:

  • Would reestablish the Royalty Policy Committee, including Governors of States, their appointees and Indian Tribes who produce federal minerals, to advise and inform the Secretary in the formation of policies and regulations; ensure greater transparency in creating royalty and leasing policy for mineral production from federal and tribal lands;
  • place a firm, reasonable timeline on the programmatic review of the federal coal leasing program to occur;
  • allow for existing lease applications (LBAs) and modifications (LBMs) who are under National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) review by the Department to move forward,
  • and ensure the federal coal lease program lease sales are conducted in a timely and consistent manner following completion of respective NEPA reviews. 

The Senate text of the Certainty Act is available here and House text here.

Montanans’ voices are currently excluded from the proposed review of the moratorium on coal leasing. According to an announcement from the Department of Interior (DOI), public meetings are currently planned to be held in May and June in Casper, Wyo.; Grand Junction, Colo.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Seattle, Wash.  

Daines has repeatedly called on Jewell to have meaningful consultation with states and tribes, like the Crow tribe. Jewell recently visited Montana and failed to visit with the coal communities that will be impacted by her actions. He recently blasted her decision to exclude Montanans during the proposed review of their moratorium on coal leasing.