Washington, D.C. — Today, the Biden administration released its long-awaited oil and gas leasing report. Among other findings, the report makes it clear that the current program doesn’t give taxpayers a fair return, doesn’t do enough to protect the environment, and doesn’t adequately incorporate perspectives from Americans who are most impacted by harmful Big Oil activities in their regions. 

In response, government watchdog Accountable.US released the following statement calling on Senate lawmakers to follow the lead of their colleagues in the House and ensure crucial reforms to the nation’s oil and gas leasing program are included in their version of the Build Back Better Act.

“The Interior Department’s report makes it abundantly clear that under the current oil and gas leasing program, taxpayers and the environment are losing out while Big Oil profits handsomely,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “Lawmakers should be prioritizing Americans’ best interests, not wealthy oil and gas companies’ bottom lines. If Congress is serious about combating climate change and protecting our nation’s cherished public lands, senators must ensure bold reforms to the nation’s public lands leasing program are included in the Build Back Better Act.”

 

BACKGROUND:

  • Currently, oil and gas companies pay an artificially low royalty rate based on the Mineral Leasing Act Of 1920, which set the current public lands oil and gas royalty rate at 12.5%.
     
  • The low royalty rate is a “sweetheart deal” for oil corporations that is frequently identified by the Government Accountability Office as a major reason for the program’s failure to ensure a fair return to taxpayers for oil and gas production.
     
  • The GAO says increasing the royalty rate could boost revenues by millions of dollars a year without a major adverse impact to production.
     
  • As a result of this sweetheart deal, despite its rampant fear mongering about President Biden’s climate and conservation policies, Big Oil is set to make record profits in 2021.
     
  • As gas prices rise, oil companies’ sky high profits come at the expense of U.S. consumers.

# # #