Federal coal subsidies are forms of financial assistance paid by federal taxpayers to the coal and power industry. Such subsidies include direct spending, tax breaks and exemptions, low-interest loans, loan guarantees, loan forgiveness, grants, lost government revenue such as discounted royalty fees to mine federal lands, and federally-subsidized external costs, such as health care expenses and environmental clean-up due to the negative effects of coal use. External costs of coal include the loss or degradation of valuable ecosystems and community health.
According to research by GigaOm analyst Adam Lesser, buried in a 2011 report from the International Energy Agency is the fact that fossil fuels currently receive subsidies via "at least 250 mechanisms."
In June 2010, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said $557 billion was spent to subsidize fossil fuels globally in 2008, compared to $43 billion in support of renewable energy. In a July 2011 EIA report on federal fossil fuel subsidies, coal was estimated to have tax expenditures (provisions in the federal tax code that reduce the tax liability of firms) with an estimated value of $561 million in FY 2010, down from $3.3 billion in FY 2007.