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Rep. Porter Introduces Bill to Raise Fees on Polluters Extracting from Public Lands

Congresswoman’s legislation would recover billions of taxpayer dollars by raising rates that haven’t been updated in decades

Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45), chair of the Natural Resources Oversight Subcommittee, today introduced legislation to protect public lands and recover taxpayer dollars. The Ending Taxpayer Welfare for Oil and Gas Companies Act, co-led by full Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (AZ-3) and Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), would raise royalties, rental rates, inspection fees, and penalties on oil and gas companies that extract resources from public lands.

“Public lands are a collective national treasure that belong to the American people—polluters that want to extract energy on these lands owe taxpayers a fair price,” Congresswoman Porter said. “We haven’t raised the rental rate for mining on public lands since I was in junior high, and we’ve been charging oil and gas companies the same royalty rate for over 100 years. My Ending Taxpayer Welfare for Oil and Gas Companies Act would protect taxpayers and give these prices a decades-overdue update.”

“Fossil fuel corporations have exploited public resources and paid us pennies for decades now, and this bill is the right way to restore some balance to our economy,” Chairman Grijalva said. “The American people are tired of propping up a failed business model that relies on subsidizing companies to pollute our air, dirty our water and destroy our climate. Rep. Porter is one of the greatest consumer champions we have in Congress. With her helping to lead the way, the Natural Resources Committee and the Democratic majority are going to end corporate giveaway culture and return economic power to the American people where it belongs.”

Since 1920, oil and gas companies have paid the same 12.5 percent royalty rate for extracting minerals on public lands, which is considerably lower than rates charged by states. Neither the minimum bid nor the rental rate on oil and gas leases have been updated since 1987, which has cost taxpayers millions of dollars. 

Porter’s Ending Taxpayer Welfare for Oil and Gas Companies would make the following updates to what we charge polluters to extract from public lands:

  • Onshore royalty rates raised from 12.5 percent to 18.75 percent;
  • Onshore oil and gas minimum bid raised from $2 to $5 and indexed to inflation; and
  • Per-acre onshore rental rates raised from their current values of $1.50 for the first 5 years and $2 for the second five years to $3 for the first 5 years and $5 for the second 5 years.

The legislation would also require natural gas companies to pay for all methane they take out of the ground, including gas burned for fuel on-site, and wasted through leaks, venting, and flaring.

The legislation is endorsed by Project on Government Oversight, the Wilderness Society, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nevada Wildlife Federation, Friends of the Earth, Western Organization of Resource Councils, Rocky Mountain Wild, Grand Canyon Trust, Clean Water Action, Sierra Club, Earthworks, Dakota Resource Council, and National Parks Conservation Association.

Congresswoman Porter has been a consistent advocate for environmental protection. A member of the Natural Resources Committee, she was recently elected to serve as Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Reform. She’s introduced legislation to give consumers more information how electricity is delivered to homes and businesses and to install electric vehicle charging stations along our nation’s highways. In her first term, Porter joined colleagues to pass the Climate Action Now Act, which included her amendment to recognize the important role of entrepreneurs and universities in establishing the U.S. as a global leader on clean technology.

More information on the Ending Taxpayer Welfare for Oil and Gas Companies is available HERE.