Washington, D.C. — A little-known federal advisory committee is quietly developing a plan that would let oil and gas companies pay less for the right to drill on public lands while further cutting the public out of the process, according to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress.
The Royal Policy Committee, created by President Trump’s Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, is stacked with members who work for or advocate on behalf of fossil fuel companies or represent states with major drilling or mining interests. The committee is proposing a radical re-write of federal public lands management policy that would deliver financial benefits to those who dominate the group. It would also limit public scrutiny and place new curbs on mandated environmental reviews of oil and gas leases.
If Zinke adopts these recommendations, he is likely to spark a firestorm of criticism from state, tribal, and local governments. These recommendations would be highly vulnerable to legal challenge, invite congressional oversight and investigations of conflicts of interest, and further erode Zinke’s fragile public image, according to CAP’s analysis.
“The oil industry is already getting a sweetheart deal to drill on America’s public lands,” said Mary Ellen Kustin, author of the analysis and director of policy for Public Lands at CAP. “They hardly need bigger subsidies and royalty cuts at the expense of taxpayers.”
Read the report: “Secretary Zinke Is Poised to Give More Breaks to Drilling Industry and Less Oversight to Public,” by Mary Ellen Kustin.
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