Royalties and other revenues that companies pay to extract natural resources from public lands constitute one of the federal government's largest sources of income -- a whopping $13 billion in 2014. However, considering that the rules governing coal royalties haven't been overhauled in over 25 years, there's a very good chance that the government isn't collecting all of the money that US taxpayers deserve.
In fact, policy experts ranging from independent analysts Headwaters Economics to the federal government's own watchdogs, the Government Accountability Office and the Interior Department's Inspector General, have raised concerns that massive loopholes in the federal coal program are allowing companies to game the system. Estimates of exactly how much revenue taxpayers are missing out on vary, but it's likely that millions of dollars are being left on the table.
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