Big coal companies have never been known as the paragon of straight and fair dealings. Even in the last couple weeks, the EnvironmentaList has tracked their hall-of-fame penchant for shadiness, including garbage like:
- Ridiculous bonuses for coal executives, despite violations of the Clean Water Act and declining stock prices;
- Peabody Energy’s lessons to legislators on how to get funded for travel by ALEC;
- The money behind efforts to export American coal abroad;
- And, of course, the ongoing saga of Duke Energy’s coal ash spill on the Dan River.
We all know coal companies are shady, so it’s no surprise when they screw ordinary people out of money. But it never gets easier to stomach when government agencies out to protect ordinary people’s interests show themselves to be looking out for dirty energy first. Recently, information has come out that coal companies have consistently paid bargain basement prices for land leases in the west, not just stripping pristine landscapes, but doing it on the cheap and depriving the American public of tax dollars. And the Bureau of Land Management has been in cahoots the whole time. Over at High Country News, Ben Goldfarb has outlined it expertly. We highly recommend you give the full story a look. Here’s a taste: