Feds propose multimillion dollar fossil fuel rebate
Against a backdrop of falling coal prices and the recent bankruptcy declaration of Arch Coal, the federal government is proposing to refund as much as $14 million dollars to Bill Koch. The billionaire claims he is entitled to the money because of “adverse geologic and engineering conditions” at the now-closed Oxbow Mine, near Somerset, along the Gunnison River in western Colorado.
The proposed refund would be structured as a royalty rate reduction from 8 percent to 5 percent, retroactive to 2012, according to a December letter from the federal Bureau of Land Management to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Oxbow Mining is a subsidiary of Koch-controlled Oxbow Carbon LLC. The Colorado mine closed two years after a fire. Reuters reported that recent regulatory filing show that the company has no plans to reopen the mine, and that machinery is already being sold off as scrap.
In the letter to Hickenlooper, asking for comment, the BLM said it wants to approve the rebate, eliciting ridicule and outrage from environmental activists fighting to protect the world’s climate from fossil fuel impacts.
The proposal is an egregious example of misguided federal fossil fuel policies, tweeted Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director for Wild Earth Guardians, a nonprofit organization that has recently been leading the charge to slow and stop fossil fuel extraction on federally managed public lands.
According to environmental advocates, the U.S. needs to stop exploiting those fossil fuel resources if it wants to meet the targets of the climate agreement reached in Paris last month.
Wild Earth Guardians also recently challenged the federal government over approvals for expansions at other western coal mines, claiming oversight agencies failed to adequately analyze the climate impacts of greenhouse gas emissions that will result from digging up the coal and burning it.
Koch may be turning to the federal government for a handout because finding investors for coal is getting harder. In the leadup to the Paris climate talks, several major banks announced that they will phase out financing for new coal mining projects.