Tomorrow, the Senate Energy Committee will hold a hearing on the Department of Interior’s onshore leasing program. We expect some of the witnesses will parrot American Petroleum Institute (API) talking points, testifying that the temporary pause on new leases will hurt state and school budgets.  

Just last year during the Trump administration, the witnesses — Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, Occidental Petroleum CEO and API board member Vicki Hollub, and Western Energy Alliance Director Kathleen Sgamma. — favored a program to slash federal royalty rates to almost zero which would have cost public schools millions. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) criticized the program for mismanagement and inequitable application. 

“Under the Trump administration, these witnesses supported oil production royalty rate cuts that cost states and local public schools untold millions. It is disingenuous at best for them to show up in the Senate now and claim they are worried about school funding. The only thing they really care about is lining their own pockets,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. 

BACKGROUND 

  • Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon advocated for royalty rate cuts despite its harm to state coffers. He will testify that his state’s economy is at risk if there is any change to the onshore oil leasing program, despite the fact that this oil-funded governor faces a budget crisis of the state’s own making. 
  • API Board Member Vicki Hollub heads an oil company that benefited from the Trump administration’s royalty rate cuts at the expense of school budgets. She will testify to Congress that her corporation cares about climate and using oil revenues to fund public schools, despite its history of dodging royalty obligations and accepting slashed royalty rates that cost state and school budgets untold millions. 
  • Oil Industry Advocate Kathleen Sgamma’s testimony will cite employment and revenue numbers from a debunked study written by an American Petroleum Institute consultant. Her organization was given advanced access to the study’s results and even changed its methodology. 

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