State governments, Indian tribes and individual whistle blowers claim that big energy companies are understating the amount and quality of natural gas they pump on federal land, and paying less than what they owe in royalties.
The federal Minerals Management Service, a division of the Interior Department, determines what royalties are owed, collects the money, and pays the states and tribes their shares. Groups representing 57 tribes and 11 states are pressuring the MMS for better accounting and higher royalty payments. And at least one whistle blower has filed a suit under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act to recoup what he claims are tens of billions of dollars in underpayments.
The complete Washington Post story, published om May 7, 2006, can be read at their website (subscription required).