Congress is proposing to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA), to reinstate a loophole that allows some of the world’s biggest coal companies to continue to dodge royalty payments owed to U.S. taxpayers.
The Office of Natural Resource Revenue is the agency charged with collecting the revenue taxpayers get for oil, gas, and coal drilled and dug up from our public lands. Back in July, that agency finalized the valuation rule to close a loophole that let energy companies avoid paying the full amount of royalties owed to the American people. Finalizing that rule prevented the coal companies from cheating taxpayers out of hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
The loophole was closed after a Reuters investigation found that coal companies operating on public lands were selling coal to their own subsidiaries at intentionally depressed prices. In some cases, coal companies paid an effective royalty rate of only 4.9 percent, even though, by law, the companies should be paying at least 12.5 percent. In response, the Obama administration began a process to make sure taxpayers receive their fair share for coal, oil and gas owned by all Americans, which the Trump administration threatens to unravel. The agency received nearly a quarter million supportive comments and the rule was finalized on July 1, 2016.
Now coal companies want their sweet deal back and have convinced Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) and Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) to introduce legislation to reinstate the loophole. The House could take up this bill at any time.
Coal companies are also persuading the White House to suspend implementation of a review process to determine the fair value of coal. Public lands are too valuable to be exploited for below market rates and the American people expect a fair return on their resources.
Prior to Congress even considering this bill, the White House has placed a stay on implementing the valuation rule. Stopping this rule from going forward is likely illegal—the White House and agencies cannot just choose to ignore their own rules!
Click here to call your member of Congress and tell them you want a fair return for the public's coal and to OPPOSE H.J. Res. 71!