The Trump administration's coal royalty rip-off scheme

After lifting the moratorium on coal leasing on public lands last month, the U.S. Department of the Interior also scrapped a rule aimed at preventing coal companies from short-changing taxpayers with low royalty rates. The Obama-era rule closed a loophole that had allowed companies to sell coal mined on public lands to an affiliate at an artificially cheap price , pay the government royalties at that low rate, and then go on to resell American coal to foreign entities at a much higher price point. The Obama rule instead calculated the royalty rate at the point of leasing, based on the price an outside entity (rather than an affiliated company) would pay. In repealing this rule, Interior Secretary Zinke declared an end to “the war on coal.” But this sweetheart deal for coal companies will deprive state coffers of much-needed revenues, as well as federal taxpayers who will lose hundreds of millions of dollars from this scam each year.

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