This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

Senators Ask If Coal Exports Skirt Royalties

By MATTHEW BROWN

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) â¿¿ Lawmakers asked the U.S. Department of Interior on Friday to review whether companies are shortchanging federal and state governments out of millions of dollars in royalties on coal exported to foreign markets.

The request from Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski comes as U.S. coal exports hit record levels last year â¿¿ an estimated 124 million tons, according to projections from the Department of Energy.

That includes increasing quantities of steam coal used in power plants, which is being shipped to Asia from the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming by companies including Arch Coal Inc., Peabody Energy Corp. and Cloud Peak Energy Inc.

The senators want to know if companies violated federal leasing law by paying royalties based on the coal's mine price, then selling it overseas at a higher price through affiliated brokers.

Interior officials said Friday they are looking into the issue. Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said he has seen no evidence that companies are dodging what they owe.

"If somebody's pulling some shenanigans, we want to get to the bottom of it, but I don't think they are," the Democratic governor said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press. "I haven't seen any evidence that they are shortchanging us at all."

Wyden is the incoming Democratic chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Murkowski is the panel's ranking Republican. They said the rise in export volumes makes it crucial that proper royalties are collected on coal mined from federal land.

"Taxpayers must be confident that (the Interior Department has) stringent royalty collection and auditing controls in place as coal markets become increasingly oriented toward international buyers," they wrote in a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. "If the department's regulations are inadequate to ensure that full royalty value is returned, those regulations must be reformed."

1 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,042.90 -28.32 -0.17%
S&P 500 1,972.29 -5.51 -0.28%
NASDAQ 4,493.39 -12.4620 -0.28%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs