Press Releases

Porter Introduces Legislation to Hold Big Oil Accountable for Pollution Costs

Bills would boost data collection for energy production on public lands and increase the amount fossil fuel companies must put down for clean-up

Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) today announced the introduction of two bills that would protect taxpayers and the environment from Big Oil’s drilling on public lands. 

“Big Oil has reaped the benefits of a sweetheart deal for too long: companies can drill on public lands for pennies on the acre and only have to pay a fraction of the cost for the clean-up,” said Rep. Porter. “We can’t even evaluate the costs and benefits of leasing public lands for drilling, because corporations aren’t required to report production or pollution data. My bills would hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for cleaning up wells and reporting how much they profit off of publicly-owned lands.”

Rep. Porter’s Bonding Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act would increase, for the first time in over 60 years, the amount of money Big Oil must put down to clean up oil wells. The current bond amount companies pay covers just a fraction of the actual clean-up costs, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill. In addition, oil and gas companies have abandoned thousands of wells across the country without undertaking reclamation efforts to make these polluted areas environmentally safe—actions that could now cost taxpayers up to $333 million. Rep. Porter’s new bill holds polluters accountable by requiring large companies to pick up the tab. Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Nannette Barragan (D-CA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), and Mike Levin (D-CA) are original cosponsors of Rep. Porter’s Bonding Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act.

Americans lack reliable information measuring fossil fuel production on leased public lands. Rep. Porter introduced the Transparency in Energy Production Act to require Big Oil to release specific data on oil and gas wells. Companies would have to report the amount, type, and source of fossil fuels produced on federal lands, and the emissions created during the extraction process. This publicly-available data would allow policymakers and Americans alike to make informed decisions about the risks and rewards associated with drilling on public lands. Original cosponsors of the Transparency in Energy Production Act include Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Jared Huffman (D-CA), and Mike Levin (D-CA). 

Congresswoman Porter has consistently fought to hold Big Oil accountable for exploiting families and taxpayers. In a recent hearing, she pushed Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to use her power to raise the bonding rate for Big Oil companies. Last year, she helped spearhead legislation, the Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax Act, that would crack down on profiteering at the pump and use the revenue to provide relief to families. Her legislation to raise fees on polluters extracting from public lands was signed into law as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. Porter has also confronted Big Oil executives, including the CEOs of BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell, and Chevron, directly about the industry’s predatory behavior.