Coal for domestic consumption is priced at a much lower royalty rate, but Big Coal using shell corporations to skirt the rules for coal bound for overseas export markets, with a nod and a wink from the Obama Interior Department. That seems about to change in light of a new Inspector General's report.
Undervalued Coal Leases Seen as Costing TaxpayersThis Inspector General's report exposes the too cozy relationship between the BLM and the big corporate miners they are supposed to regulate. Despite past abuses it remains a persistent problem.
By JOHN M. BRODER
WASHINGTON — The Interior Department is failing to collect tens of millions of dollars in lease payments for coal mining on federal lands, according to an agency inspector general’s report released Tuesday.
The study found that the Bureau of Land Management was improperly applying its own rules for assessing the fair market value of minerals beneath federally owned lands, shortchanging the government and providing a bonanza for a handful of large coal companies operating in the Powder River Basin of the Mountain West.
The report, the product of one of a series of investigations under way of federal coal leasing and royalty collection, indicated that significant problems remained in a program that has periodically been hit by scandal and that has not undergone a serious overhaul in decades.