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Biden Administration Holds Oil and Gas Companies Accountable for Cleaning up Their Mess and Fairly Compensating Taxpayers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Biden Administration today enacted a long-overdue crackdown on fossil fuel companies that drill on lands owned by the U.S. government. It would help address the federal government’s longstanding failure to require that drilling companies provide adequate financial guarantees to ensure that wells get cleaned up if drillers go bust. These finalized rules issued by the Bureau of Land Management would also increase royalties to compensate taxpayers for drilling on public lands, which have long been at woefully inadequate levels

Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, issued the following statement: 

“For far too long, fossil fuel companies drilling on federal land have been permitted to rip off the public and trash our lands. Most importantly in today’s announcement, the Biden administration is finally forcing fossil fuel companies drilling on public lands to take responsibility for cleaning up their operations, preventing them from abandoning wells and leaving the public to clean up the mess. Increased royalty payments, mandated by the Inflation Reduction Act, will, finally, bump up what fossil fuel companies pay for extracting wealth that belongs to the public – though the rates remain too low. 

“This is an important if modest step forward toward accountability, and a major defeat for fossil fuel corporations that have long deployed their political power to defend their gouging of taxpayers and abuse of our land.

“However, the worsening climate crisis demands much more. Fossil fuel drilling on public lands and in public waters must end, full stop. The U.S., as the world’s leading fossil fuel producer, must lead the transition from planet-destroying fossil fuels.”

Previous Public Citizen research 

December 2023: U.S. taxpayers could face up to $18 billion in costs to clean up oil and gas wells on federal lands.

March 2023: Fossil fuel interests have donated $28 million to key lawmakers poised to approve the industry’s agenda.

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