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Long-Overdue Reforms to Broken Oil and Gas Leasing System Would Protect Taxpayers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Interior today proposed long-awaited rules to ensure that oil and gas companies, not taxpayers, clean up the lands on which they drill, as well as important reforms to ensure fossil fuel corporations pay adequate royalties for drilling on public lands.

Public Citizen, Taxpayers for Common Sense and the Project on Government Oversight called for these reforms in a December 2022 letter to the Interior Department, arguing that the current federal onshore oil and gas leasing system fails taxpayers.

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

“These rules are a welcome change from the longstanding status quo of policies that provide giveaways to the oil and gas industry. Antiquated rules incentivize oil and gas corporations to shirk their obligation to clean up the mess they create, leaving old, rusty wells pocking the national landscape and foisting the cleanup bill on taxpayers. Today’s proposed rules would impose realistic financial requirements on oil and gas corporations to pay for the remediation of old, decrepit wells, as federal law requires.

“While these rules are helpful, the Biden administration’s proposal continues with the climate-destroying practice of leasing federal lands for drilling, which is entirely out of sync with the administration’s climate goals. But as long as drilling exists on public property, corporate polluters should be held to a high standard for operating and cleaning up their wells.”