Ranchers, Citizens Want Coal Lease Reform, for Obvious Reasons

People from across the state packed a Bureau of Lands Management “listening session” today.  They showed up to tell BLM officials that its past time they closed loopholes in the coal leasing system that deny taxpayers their fair share of when it comes to coal leases on public lands. About 40% of America’s federally owned coal is mined in the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming, so the problems hit locals harder than most.

Bull Mountain rancher Steve Charter, who is also the Chair of Northern Plains, said the Federal Coal Leasing Program has been subsidizing coal for decades, allowing for non-competitive bidding, seizure of public lands, and withheld reclamation bonds. Coal companies are allowed to sell coal to themselves for cheap to avoid the true taxable value.

BLM has apparently agreed to take a look at reforming the program so coal companies pay a higher royalty to U.S. taxpayers for leasing and mining publicly owned coal, so we shall see what happens.

This was the only session in Montana. Another is in Gillette, WY on Thursday. I don’t expect people from Wyoming enjoy being ripped off any more than the rest of us.

This is not the first time unfair leasing practices have been under scrutiny.  A month ago, Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke was caught trying to quietly preserve a loophole that would allow companies to dodge royalty payments owed to U.S. taxpayers and other loopholes.

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7 Comments on "Ranchers, Citizens Want Coal Lease Reform, for Obvious Reasons"

  1. Interesting word “packed”.

    Was it a small room or big one cause all I see in the photo is about a dozen people.

  2. This is just another faked up new narrative, new bete noir for the usual anti-coal suspects.
    Would like to see them turn off every coal-fired electron they’ve ever used.

  3. Just waitin’ for ‘ol Clive (welfare deadbeat rancher) Bundy to show up and offer his ‘solidarity’ against ‘Gummint’…

  4. There is an irony in this story. Ranchers are largely dependent on taxpayer subsidized public lands grazing, where they pay a small fraction of the going rate to graze their cows on BLM and Forest Service lands – often referred to as “welfare ranching”. The GAO reports that federal grazing fees paid by ranchers cover 1/6 of the cost to administer the program – another drain on taxpayers by a parasitic industry.

    I am opposed to subsidies for both coal companies and ranchers! AND farm subsidies as well. I believe there is a saying about “people living in glass houses not throwing stones”.

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