Washington, D.C. — The oil and gas industry has long taken advantage of the leasing and drilling system on America’s public lands and waters. For years, some of the top leaseholders have faced minimal consequences for repeatedly violating environmental and labor standards, dodging payments, and shedding liabilities. Despite these actions, these bad actors are still allowed to operate and buy new leases on public lands and waters.
A new analysis from the Center for American Progress finds that more than half of the top oil and gas companies have exhibited one or more bad-actor behaviors, such as abandoning wells, shedding liabilities, dodging royalty payments, or committing environmental or labor violations.
“As the Biden administration reforms the federal oil and gas program to hold oil and gas companies accountable, it has an opportunity to create strong limits for bad actors,” said Jenny Rowland-Shea, director of Public Lands at CAP and co-author of the column. “New rules from the Interior Department would establish guidelines to help prevent the middle class from falling victim, yet again, to oil and gas industry greed.”
The analysis highlights these bad practices by the oil and gas industry and proposes two key policy recommendations:
- Finalize the proposed Bureau of Land Management oil and gas rule: The rule would build a fairer system and ensure that the oil and gas industry actually pays its bills and cleans up after itself when it uses shared public lands.
- Finalize the proposed Bureau of Ocean Energy Management rule on financial assurance: If strengthened, it could similarly help protect U.S. public waters by ensuring that companies are held responsible for decommissioning costs.
“Wealthy oil and gas companies have been taking advantage of loopholes in the federal leasing program for far too long,” said Mariel Lutz, research associate for Conservation Policy at CAP and co-author of the column. “This has come at the detriment of the nation’s revenue, workforce, and natural resources. The American public knows that actions have consequences, and it’s time for the oil and gas industry to be held to a fair standard.”
Read the column: “How the Federal Government Can Hold the Oil and Gas Industry Accountable,” by Mariel Lutz and Jenny Rowland-Shea
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