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Interior Advisory Panel Proposes Changes In Energy Royalties

A coal train in the Powder River Basin
Jerry Huddleston
A coal train in the Powder River Basin

Editor's Note: In an earlier version of this story Kathleen Sgamma was quoted as saying reducing royalty rates increases revenue for industry and the federal government.  Her point was in fact that reducing regulatory barriers achieves this goal.

On 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.

Interior Advisory Panel Proposes Changes In Energy Royalties

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 says.

Kathleen Sgamma is an energy lobbyist and a member of the Royalty Policy Committee. She says reducing regulatory barriers will bring more business and thus more money to the federal government.

“The more we can produce, the more we can return royalties to the federal government,” she says. "So it's a financial benefit to both parties."

The Mountain West contains some of the nation's top energy producing states.

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