Obama admin changing coal royalty program to boost revenue

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Interior Department is changing the way it values coal mined from public lands in the West to make sure mining companies are not shortchanging taxpayers on sales to Asia and other markets.

A final rule issued Thursday comes after coal exports surged in recent years amid a weak U.S. market.

Under rules in place since the 1980s, companies can sell the fuel to affiliates and pay royalties to the government on that price, then turn around and sell the coal at higher prices, often overseas.

Lawmakers and environmental groups have complained for year that taxpayers were losing tens of millions of dollars annually because royalties are improperly calculated.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says the updated rule will ensure taxpayers receive all due revenue from coal leases.

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