Wednesday, an Interior Department advisory panel will propose changing how the government receives royalties from coal dug up on federal lands. But some critics are calling foul as panel members either come from the energy industry or energy-producing states.
The Royalty Policy Committee wants to make it easier and cheaper for companies to get coal, oil and gas from federal lands and U.S. waters.
According to a meeting agenda, the committee will propose changing how companies pay royalties on coal.
Dan Bucks ran Montana’s budget for a number of years and says the committee’s recommendations will benefit the industry and not taxpayers.
“It will allow companies more power to pay less and it will also give the companies more ability to fail to meet their environmental responsibilities,” Bucks said.
Kathleen Sgamma is an energy lobbyist and a member of the Royalty Policy Committee. She says slashing royalty rates will bring more business and more money to the federal government.
“The more we can produce, the more we can return royalties to the federal government,” Sgamma said.
And that’s good, she says, for both parties.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.