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Coal companies routinely win ‘competitive bids’ against no competition


There are two senses in which coal is artificially cheap.

The more sophisticated reason is the idea that coal has negative impacts on the economy and on public health which are not incorporated into its price. There’s also a practical sense in which coal is too cheap: Coal producers pay far too little for it.

A report in today’s Washington Post provides a clear example of this latter sense, focused on the Powder River Basin overlapping Montana and Wyoming.

The government’s longtime practice of auctioning coal mining rights to a single bidder may have cost taxpayers as much as $28.9 billion over the past 30 years, according to an analysis to be released Monday by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a Cambridge, Mass.-based think tank. …

The phenomenon — in which a mining company draws up a proposed area for leasing, and the Interior Department’s BLM auctions it…

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