US Interior Department Report Finds Significant Shortcomings in Oil & Gas Leasing Programs

Lent by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

WASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior yesterday released its report on federal oil and gas leasing and approval practices following a review of onshore and offshore oil and gas programs. The report identifies significant reforms that should be made to ensure that the programs provide a fair return to taxpayers, discourage speculation, hold operators accountable for remediation, and more fully involve communities and tribal, state, and local governments in decision-making.

“Our nation is facing a deep climate crisis that is affecting every American. The Department of the Interior has an obligation to responsibly manage our public lands and waters – to provide a reasonable return to taxpayers and mitigate worsening climate impacts – while remaining steadfast in the pursuit of environmental justice, “he said Secretary Deb Haaland. “This review outlines significant deficiencies in the federal oil and gas programs and identifies important and urgent fiscal and programmatic reforms that will benefit the American people.”

The report completes the review of the federal oil and gas programs required by Executive Order 14008 and focuses primarily on necessary reforms of the tax terms, the leasing process, and remediation requirements related to the federal oil and gas programs.

The Home Office is committed to modernizing its oversight of oil and gas leasing and development to help address climate and biodiversity crises and promote environmental justice. The Biden-Harris administration is actively developing a national climate strategy for how the nation will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to achieve net zero to address the climate crisis.

To restore balance in the programs, the department’s report provides a number of specific recommendations, including adjusting royalties and binding rates, prioritizing rentals in areas with known resource potential, and avoiding rentals that conflict with recreation, wildlife habitat, conservation, and historical and cultural resources. all of which are in line with pending congressional proposals.

The department will continue to make appropriate outreach to stakeholders, including state and local authorities, tribes, conservation and environmental justice communities, and industry and labor.

The department conducted a comprehensive review of oil and gas development in public areas and waters pursuant to Executive Order 14008, including hosting a virtual public forum. The report reflects input received by the department through robust engagement with state and local government officials, members of Congress and tribes, as well as from a wide range of interests, including the oil and gas industry, conservation groups, unions, indigenous organizations and the general public. The review also comes after several years in which the Government Accountability Office, the Department’s Inspector General’s Office and several congressional committees and members of Congress have highlighted the need for a meaningful modernization of the programs.

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