Washington, D.C. — The Trump administration’s Department of the Interior has announced that it is working to further lower or eliminate royalties for oil and gas companies that are drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf. The policy changes that are outlined in a new Interior Department report will allow existing oil and gas leaseholders to pay less than the royalty rate that they agreed to in their leases and less than the statutory minimum royalty rate of 12.5 percent for offshore drilling. The Interior Department also announced that, for upcoming auctions of new oil and gas leases, companies may be exempted from paying any royalties on some portion of the resulting production. In response, Matt Lee-Ashley, a senior fellow and senior director of Environmental Strategy and Communications at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:
The Trump administration is shamelessly trying to give away taxpayer-owned oil and gas for free. These policy changes represent a massive breach of trust with American taxpayers who are legally owed a fair return on publicly owned oil and gas resources. These indefensible and unnecessary giveaways reflect the extent to which the Trump administration’s Department of the Interior has become a captive subsidiary of the oil and gas industry. This lousy deal should be stopped dead in its tracks and investigated by Congress.
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