Taxpayers Lose $62 Million On Federal Coal Leases
The federal government isn't getting full market value for coal leases on public lands.
According to a new study from the Department of Interior the federal government lost about $62 million dollars on recent coal lease sales.
The primary reason was due to a lack of centralized authority in the Bureau of Land Management's coal program.
When a company looks to mine coal on public land, the government is required to estimate fair market value for the lease. Variables that could affect the price include coal quality, shipping costs as well as an independent analysis of the site provided by companies.
To get a lease, companies have to make bids greater than or equal to the estimated fair market value.
The Interiors study found that independent analyses were not provided directly to the BLM, creating concern that data could be skewed.
There were other concerns as well, including that the BLM used flawed practices to compute lost revenues, and some BLM offices accepted bids below fair market value.
Federal coal leases currently exist in Arizona, New Mexico and with the Navajo and Hopi tribes. The Interior’s study asserts that several state offices are responsible for financial losses, but which offices in what state are not specified.
Officials say they are working to find out.