Have Coal Companies Been Ripping Americans Off Even More Than We Already Knew? - Grist.org
Have coal companies been ripping Americans off even more than we already knew? By Philip Bump - Grist.org
The coal industry, for as much as it whines and frets and fake-cries about how oppressive the government is, gets a pretty sweet deal. We’ve noted before than companies pay 25 cents a ton for coal from public lands and then can turn around and sell it for $35 a ton. (We’ve also mentioned that they often sell that coal to China, meaning we’re subsidizing the world’s largest consumer of coal, but that’s a whole other issue.)
What makes this so much more galling is that the weepy coal companies might not even be paying for all of the coal they’re extracting. From The Hill:
Interior is looking into whether mining firms lowball the value of coal excavated from federal lands to minimize the fees they pay the government. …
Reuters said mining companies are underreporting the price of coal at mine sites — where royalties are assessed — then selling it to marketers that they often times own. Reuters said those intermediaries then ship the coal abroad, where they fetch higher prices.
and Energy Committee ranking member Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) had asked Salazar to examine those charges in a January letter. They said the government could ill afford to lose out on any revenues, noting coal royalties amounted to $898 million in 2011.
The National Mining Association suggests that the Reuters report was inaccurate. Of course, the NMA also went out of its way to propagate the “war on coal” nonsense, so it can be ignored.