The US Department of the Interior has assembled a task force and an action plan to investigate coal exports. The move comes after a letter from US Senators Wyden, of Oregon, and Murkowski, of Alaska, asked the agency to find out whether coal companies are properly reporting their sales. Increasingly, Wyoming’s coal producers are examining markets overseas to make up for a slump in domestic sales. Companies can fetch significantly higher prices for coal in Asian markets, and by selling through an affiliated intermediary, they could report the initial sale instead of the higher, final sale. Royalties to the federal government calculated using the lower number would be less.
Wyoming Department of Audit Director, Jeffrey Vogel, says more than 99% of the sales they audit are in compliance, but it’s always good to review.
“It’s the nature of the auditing business, to look back at what’s been, what’s been recorded, how well it’s being presented, as well,” said Vogel. “In this case we’re going to be looking at did we follow governmental auditing standards when we looked at these coal sales and how they were recorded and things like that.”
The DOI’s action plan will fast-track audits of recent sales, review older coal sales again, and continue the rulemaking it started in 2011 which will review and possibly update the current regulations.