Problems found in coal lease programFeb 5, 2014 The Associated Press
BILLINGS, Mont. -- Congressional investigators have found problems with federal coal sales that might have cost taxpayers $200 million or more in lost revenue, a senator said Tuesday.
Citing a new report by investigators at the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., called for the sales to be suspended until the problems are rectified.
Further details on losses -- including when they occurred and how much coal was involved -- were not provided, drawing skepticism from the coal industry.
More than 40 percent of U.S. coal production, or about 450 million tons a year, comes from public lands leased by the government to mining companies under the century-old Mineral Leasing Act. Those leases bring in more than $1 billion in annual revenue.
Wyoming is the nation's top coal producing state.