Friday, January 4, 2013
The leaders of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,incoming Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska),called for federal regulators to ensure taxpayers receive the full value for coal mined on federaland tribal lands, in a bipartisan letter to the Department of Interior sent today.
Recent press reports raised the possibility that coal companies may be shortchanging state andfederal taxpayers by understating the value of coal mined on federal and tribal lands. Articles byThomson Reuters show that out-of-date regulations may be allowing companies to avoid payingfull royalties by using financial arrangements to sell coal to affiliated trading firms at lowdomestic prices. According to Reuters, the affiliate, which is controlled by the coal company,then sells that coal overseas at a much higher price, which is not always reflected in royalty payments.
Land Management and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue have stringent royaltycollection and auditing controls in place as coal markets become increasingly oriented toward
Wyden and Murkowski are seeking more information from the Department of Interior, to protecttaxpayers against the potential loss of tens of millions of dollars in annual royalty revenue.
of the money they a
federal taxpayers get the full value for natural resources extracted from public lands. If regulators, or decades-old laws, are not doing enough to protect the public interest, our com
to maximize these benefits, we must be certain that coal exporters are following the rules for royalty payments so
Interior Department is looking into this issue
to determine if companies are in compliance or not
Between the 2001 and 2011 fiscal years, coal royalty revenue for the federal government andIndian tribes has more than doubled to $898 million, according to ONRR. It accounts for 21% of federal onshore royalty payments, 13% of tribal royalty payments and 8% of total federal royaltycollections.
The domestic price of coal mined in the Powder River Basin is roughly $13 per ton, according to press reports, which is less than half of international prices that are $30 a ton or more. That pricedifference would translate to a royalty shortfall to the federal government of more than $2 per ton.