- Associated Press - Thursday, February 12, 2015

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - The Interior Department is extending for 60 days a comment period on a proposal to increase industry royalty payments for coal, oil and natural gas extracted from public leases.

Thursday’s announcement comes after Western lawmakers and companies said they needed more time to examine changes that could cost the energy industry an estimated $80 million annually.

One of the most significant changes would bar gas and coal companies from paying royalties based on the price of fuel they sold to affiliated companies. Critics have said the affiliates could turn around and sell the fuel for more profit, including through coal shipments overseas.

Another change would stop oil and gas companies from deducting fuel transportation costs from their royalty payments.

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