WASHINGTON, D.C. — In his announcement releasing 180 millions of barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over six months, President Joe Biden today called on Congress to require companies to pay fees on the public lands they lease without producing and on wells they haven’t used in years.
In response, Public Citizen president Robert Weissman issued the following statement:
“While the unprecedented size of this release from the nation’s strategic oil reserve will provide some relief at the pump, record exports of crude oil and gasoline blunt its effectiveness. The President has clear authority to restrict oil exports, and must take steps to halt exports of natural gas. Federal financial regulators have the authority to bar excessive speculation and Congress can use proceeds from a windfall profits tax to help struggling Americans. Longer-term solutions to help working families break addiction to fossil fuels – through committed investments in public transit, equitable electric vehicle infrastructure and finalizing strong fuel economy standards – are needed. This “all of the above” sustainable energy strategy can fight climate change and provide affordable and reliable energy access for families.
“For far too long, oil and gas companies have ripped off taxpayers. President Biden is correct to demand that Congress make companies pay fees for oil leases they haven’t used in years, without any production. But that doesn’t go far enough. Congress and the Biden administration must hike the below-market royalties that onshore drillers pay for the use of public lands. Major oil and gas producing states require higher royalty rates than the federal government’s paltry onshore rate, which has not changed since 1920.
“Leasing public lands for drilling without properly compensating taxpayers is an indefensible practice, allowing oil and gas companies to pump up their profits while putting the planet at risk. That the oil and gas industry sits on roughly 9,000 – 9,000! – unused but already-approved permits for production is proof positive that it doesn’t need access to even more federal lands and waters for exploitation, as it is claiming in a cynical attempt to exploit the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”