Follow CBSMIAMI.COM: Facebook | Twitter

WASHINGTON (CBSMiami/AP) — The Obama administration is changing the way it values coal mined from public lands in order to curb companies from shortchanging taxpayers on sales to other markets.

A final rule issued Thursday comes after coal exports surged in recent years amid a weak U.S. market.

Under rules in place since the 1980s, companies can sell the fuel to affiliates and pay royalties to the government on that price, then turn around and sell the coal at higher prices, often overseas.

Lawmakers and environmental groups have complained for year that taxpayers were losing tens of millions of dollars annually because royalties are improperly calculated.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says the updated rule will ensure taxpayers receive all due revenue from coal leases.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)