So why should the U.S. taxpayer care? As journalists and analysts have pointed out time and time and time again, companies sending coal to be burned in other countries are getting access to taxpayer-owned lands for very cheap. Much of the nation’s coal comes from the Powder River Basin, which is located on lands in Montana and Wyoming managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
Over the last 30 years, the Bureau of Land Management has held “auctions” with one bidder and handed over the resource for next to nothing, keeping coal prices artificially low. (In the latest “auction,” Peabody Energy—the largest private coal company in the world—secured taxpayer-owned coal for $1.11 per ton. The company will likely be able to sell it in China for around $100 per ton)…
So you get the situation we’re facing today: Americans are paying for large companies to dig up coal at bargain prices, sell it to other countries at market prices, and subsidize their global warming pollution.
— excerpts from “Coal Exports Booming at U.S. Taxpayers’ Expense” by Stephen Lacey in EcoWatch.org (Oct. 23, 2012).