A new bipartisan bill is seeking to reform the royalties that oil and gas companies pay to the government to drill on public lands.
Sens. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation – CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality Blunt retirement shakes up Missouri Senate race Roy Blunt won’t run for Senate seat in 2022 MORE (R-Iowa) and Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenRosen to lead Senate Democrats’ efforts to support female candidates Democratic senator demands Rand Paul wear a mask on Senate floor Overnight Defense: New START extended for five years | Austin orders ‘stand down’ to tackle extremism | Panel recommends Biden delay Afghanistan withdrawal MORE (D-Nev.) are introducing legislation in the Senate that would increase the rate oil and gas producers pay to drill on federal lands from 12.5 percent to 18.75 percent.
“Big Oil continues to take advantage of low royalty rates on federal lands. Congress has not addressed this issue for over 100 years and since then, these oil companies have deprived the treasury and the American people of billions of dollars,” Grassley said in a statement.
“It’s time for my colleagues in Congress to end this oil company loophole, end the corporate welfare and bring oil leasing into the 21st century,” he added.
It’s not clear whether other Senate Republicans will get on board, but a companion House bill has been introduced by Reps. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz) and Alan LowenthalAlan Stuart LowenthalOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Five things to know about Texas’s strained electric grid | Biden honeymoon with green groups faces tests | Electric vehicles are poised to aid Biden in climate fight Lawmakers briefed on ‘horrifying,’ ‘chilling’ security threats ahead of inauguration OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA declines to tighten key air pollution standards | Despite risks to polar bears, Trump pushes ahead with oil exploration in Arctic | Biden to champion climate action in 2021 MORE (D-Calif.), indicating further Democratic support for the measure.
The Biden administration has also indicated it would make changes to the oil and gas leasing program, having temporarily paused new leases on public lands pending “completion of a comprehensive review and reconsideration of Federal oil and gas permitting and leasing practice.”
That order also directed the Interior Secretary to consider whether to adjust royalties for coal, oil or gas from public lands and waters “to account for corresponding climate costs.”
The Rosen-Grassley legislation would also bring other changes to the leasing program. It would hike the rate to rent land from $1.50 per acre for the first five years and $2.00 after that to $3.00 per acre for the first five years and $5.00 thereafter.
It would also increase the minimum bids on federal lands from $2.00 per acre to at least $10.00 per acre.
The bill would further adjust the rates for inflation at least every four years.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2016 that raising the royalty rate to 18.75 percent would add $200 million in federal revenue over the next 10 years.
“The current federal oil and gas program is broken, and fails to protect our public lands and the American people,” Rosen said in a statement, adding that increased royalties could provide more funds for “critical education, infrastructure, and public health projects.”
The legislation would need the support of more Republicans besides Grassley to evade the threat of a Senate filibuster.
Last year, Grassley and then-Sen. Tom UdallTom UdallOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Haaland courts moderates during tense confirmation hearing | GOP’s Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change | White House urges passage of House public lands package Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated ‘by something other than her record’ Senate approves waiver for Biden’s Pentagon nominee MORE (D-N.M.) introduced a similar measure.