Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Big Coal Stealing Even More of Your Money

It's really easier to just remember that all fossil fuel companies are evil motherfuckers, all corporations are blatant thieves, and all the rich are parasites.
A seemingly low-profile proposal from a little-known natural resources agency in the Department of the Interior (DOI) has attracted a record-breaking 210,000 public comments from taxpayers, who argue that they are not receiving a fair share of revenues from the mining of coal on U.S. public lands.

The public outcry came in response to a proposed rule from DOI’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue that aims to close a regulatory loophole that allows coal companies to avoid paying royalties owed to taxpayers. Critics argue that the proposed rule does not go far enough to guarantee that western states and U.S. taxpayers are receiving a fair value for the coal mined on America’s public lands, due to additional subsidies given to coal companies under the rule.

“We just got done with this Legislature where there were a lot of needs that couldn’t be met,” said Steve Charter, a rancher from north of Billings, Montana told the Billings Gazette. Meanwhile, he said, “since 2008 Montana has lost over $30 million in coal royalties that should have been revenue to the state.”

In January, a report from the Center for American Progress uncovered evidence that coal companies are dodging royalty payments owed to taxpayers by selling coal to their own subsidiary companies and then paying royalties on artificially low prices.

Reviews of the Department of the Interior’s coal program have also found that coal companies are taking advantage of up to $1 billion a year in royalty rate reductions and subsidies for washing and transporting coal.

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