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Senators ask if coal exports skirt royalties

January 4, 2013 • Business


FILE – In this April 2007, file photo, a shovel prepares to dump a load of coal into a 320-ton truck at the Black Thunder Mine in Wright, Wyo. Lawmakers asked the U.S. Department of Interior on Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 to review whether companies are shortchanging federal and state governments out of millions of dollars in royalties on coal exported to foreign markets. A spokesman for Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, a Republican, said state officials there had seen no evidence that companies had failed to pay their proper royalties. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — 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 — 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.

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