Sunoco, Inc. and Subsidiaries - Page 27

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             its returns for 1983, 1984, and 1986 because that change is              
             a change of accounting method for which petitioner did not               
             obtain the consent of the Secretary, as required by section              
             446(e).  Respondent notes that beginning in 1983 and                     
             continuing until 1993 when petitioner sold Cordero, a                    
             period of approximately 11 years, petitioner consistently                
             accounted for all of its overburden removal costs at the                 
             Gillette mine as mine development costs within the meaning               
             of section 616(a), and it capitalized and amortized a                    
             portion of those costs, as required initially by section                 
             291(b) and later by section 59(e).  Respondent acknowledges              
             that the subject overburden removal costs should have been               
             treated as production costs, but, respondent asserts, the                
             proposed change constitutes an impermissible retroactive                 
             change in a method of accounting in contravention of                     
             section 446(e).  According to respondent, the fact that                  
             petitioner’s tax accounting method is erroneous does not                 
             justify petitioner’s abandonment of this longstanding                    
             method of accounting for such costs without the consent                  
             of the Secretary required by section 446(e).                             
                  Respondent acknowledges that the prior consent                      
             requirement of section 446(e) applies only if the change                 
             constitutes a change in method of accounting.  Respondent                
             argues that the change which petitioner proposes to make in              

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