WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congress has taken an important first step aimed at fixing the broken oil and gas leasing system on our nation’s public lands. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced H.R. 3225 which would make the oil and gas industry pay its fair share for oil and gas leases and stop the abuse that has permeated the leasing process.
“Americans cherish our shared public lands,” said Tracy Stone-Manning, vice president for public lands at the National Wildlife Federation. “This common sense bill not only ensures oil and gas development will be responsibly managed on our public lands, it increases the rights of private property owners and gives taxpayers their fair share of royalties. It is much needed and long overdue.”
The bill would modernize antiquated provisions of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, which has allowed oil and gas companies to engage in non-competitive leasing. This is the practice of selling leases over the counter after no one bids of them competitively. Last year alone, the number of lease sales that sold non-competitively doubled from 141,000 acres to nearly 379,000 acres – the highest amount in more than a decade.
The bill restores balance and fairness. It would raise the oil and gas royalty rate from 12.5 percent to 18.5 percent, which is what most western states charge for development on state land. It would restore public participation that the Department of Interior stripped away in recent years, giving community members and other stakeholders the ability to voice their concerns about potential leases. Finally, the bill requires the Department of Interior to develop master leasing plans, which would restore a balance between development, conservation and recreation on public lands after two years of an energy-dominance agenda.
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