Coal mining industry seeks aid during COVID-19 pandemic

April 2, 2020

The National Mining Association has turned to the White House and Congress seeking a reprieve from some fees paid by mining companies. In a letter to President Trump and leaders in Congress, the NMA make the argument that the COVID-19 pandemic is hurting the coal industry and federal royalty payments on coal production from federal lands should be waived or reduced.

In the letter, dated on Wednesday, the NMA asked Trump, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to ensure that “coal companies have access to the necessary cash flow they need to continue operations.”

Reuters reported that the letter asked for Trump to take executive action to keep coal-fired power plants running, and asked Congress to “suspend or reduce” royalties on mining and cut taxes and fees the industry pays for things like health assistance to victims of black lung disease and cleanups of former mines.

“The fuel security provided by coal reserves at power plants offers resiliency to a system that is bracing for uncertainty, and it is imperative to keep these plants online — whether through the use of the Defense Production Act or other means — in the interest of national security,” NMA President Rich Nolan wrote in the letter.

The coal industry has sought several federal interventions to help it reverse a slide in demand over the past decade as aging plants retire. The Trump administration has attempted without much success to help the industry, in part by rolling back Obama-era climate regulations.

The Defense Production Act is a law enacted in 1950 during the Korean War that allows the government to direct private companies to produce certain goods to meet the nation’s national security needs.

The NMA also asked for the coal industry to have access to credit “without prejudice.”

 

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