Senator Wyden: Coal Companies Must Stop Shortchanging Taxpayers

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Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore calls proposed interior department rule a common-sense step to closing loophole for exported coal. He praised the Interior Department announcement that it will close loopholes that have allowed mining companies to dodge royalties when federal coal is exported overseas.

Wyden called for an investigation of questionable royalty practice in January 2013, after a series of Reuters articles detailed how some companies were using financial arrangements – often selling coal to their own subsidiaries at a low price – to avoid paying full royalties on coal that was mined on federal and tribal lands and then shipped abroad.

“I said from the beginning that taxpayers must receive every penny they are owed when coal companies sell resources extracted from public lands,” Wyden said. “I applaud Interior Secretary Sally Jewell beginning to take common-sense steps to make sure that happens.”

The Department of the Interior also announced it will update 25-year-old guidelines that may have allowed coal mining companies to pay below-market rates to lease Bureau of Land Management lands, another issue Wyden raised earlier this year. The new guidelines are expected to bring more consistency to the leasing process, and require BLM offices to take into account the potential that coal mined on federal land could be exported.

The Interior Department took a number of steps in response to Wyden’s inquiry, including audits of past royalty payments, which are ongoing.

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