US losing money on coal leases: report

A new report from the US Department of the Interior says the government is incurring multi-million dollar losses by charging low prices for coal mining leases, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Bureau of Land Management, the USDI’s agency for administering public lands, is responsible for selling the leases on federal and tribal lands to mining companies. It is also supposed to ensure a fair return for coal on public lands.

Weaknesses were found in the current sale process that could risk the government not receiving the full value of the leases, the report says, with lost bonuses of $2 million from recent sales and $60 million in potentially undervalued lease modifications identified as examples.

This report is the latest to criticize the BLM leasing program.

A Boston group called the Institute for Energy Economic and Financial Analysis releases a report in June 2012 which estimated below-market-value coal leasing prices had lost US taxpayers about $29 billion during the previous 30 years.

Most coal on public lands is found in Wyoming and Montana, which mine 40% of the coal used in US power plants.

Image: Jim Parkin /