Ranking Member Grijalva, Reps. Huffman, Porter, Susie Lee, Levin Commend Biden Administration’s Proposed Oil and Gas Rule, Highlight Democrats’ Efforts

Washington, D.C. – House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries Subcommittee Ranking Member Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.), and Mike Levin (D-Calif.) today issued the following statements on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) newly proposed rule for onshore oil and gas leasing on public lands. The proposed rule reflects long overdue reforms to the leasing program that were passed in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including increased onshore royalty rates, minimum bid amounts, and rental rates; a new fee to nominate public lands for leasing; and an end to noncompetitive leasing. The rule also strengthens bonding requirements for the first time since 1960.

“Big Oil has been operating with an unfair advantage on our public lands for far too long,” said Ranking Member Grijalva. “For years, Democrats have championed much-needed reforms to this imbalanced system, and we were proud to see many of them pass in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act. These reforms and the proposed rule’s stronger bonding requirements will go a long way in making sure Americans aren’t getting short-changed by polluters that don’t want to pay us a fair price to use our public lands or clean up their messes. While putting an end to fossil fuels is undeniably the end goal, putting an end to the industry’s lack of accountability is a good first step.”

“For far too long, the fossil fuel and mining industries have been allowed to abuse our public lands with impunity.  While they rake in huge profits, the public bears much of the cost – including the increasingly undeniable costs of the climate crisis.  As our nation swelters this summer from record-breaking temperatures that have claimed the lives of hundreds of Americans, even as we grapple with more death and destruction from torrential rain, raging wildfires and crippling drought, let’s finally acknowledge the reality that dirty energy is at the heart of this crisis. We desperately need reforms like these to stop carbon polluters from running rampant and stoking even more climate calamity,” said Rep. Huffman. “I worked relentlessly with our climate coalition in Congress to get these reforms included in the Inflation Reduction Act, and I’m glad to see the Biden administration taking action with this proposed rule to ensure they get implemented. This isn’t the end game, though. I want to see the administration build on these reforms, and I’ll keep up the pressure to put an end to our planet-killing addiction to fossil fuels.” 

“These policy changes are huge wins for our environment and for taxpayers,” said Rep. Porter. “For too long, fossil fuel companies have taken advantage of outdated leasing requirements to pad their profits at our expense, which is why I’ve championed reforms throughout my time in Congress. Today’s announcement finally puts Big Oil on notice: if you pollute, you have to pay.”

"Public lands belong in public hands, not tied up in costly and unproductive fossil fuel speculation,” said Rep. Susie Lee. “Over 80 percent of Nevada lands are public lands, and as the state’s sole member of the House Natural Resources Committee, I’ve made it one of my top priorities to protect our resources and taxpayers from the outdated, wasteful approach of our speculative leasing system. BLM’s announcement today is a major step toward fixing the broken elements of this system, in line with my End Speculative Oil and Gas Leasing Act and much of the work my House colleagues on this committee have been championing for years.”

“The American people deserve to see a fair financial return on the profits that fossil fuel companies make from their use of our cherished public lands,” said Rep. Levin. “That’s why I introduced my legislation to ensure that any development on our public lands is protective of federal taxpayers. I’m glad the Biden Administration is implementing it by issuing a formal rulemaking to reform the federal oil and gas leasing program, which will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for taxpayers while promoting the protection of our public lands. Along with additional reforms BLM is proposing, such as increased bonding requirements and protection of key landscapes from fossil fuel development, these changes will elevate the interest of the American people over fossil fuel interests.”

The rule reflects past and current legislative efforts of Natural Resources Committee Democrats, including the following:

117th Congress

  • H.R. 1503 (Levin) Restoring Community Input and Public Protections in Oil and Gas Leasing Act – Legislation to eliminate non-competitive bidding and increase royalty rates, rental rates, and minimum bid amounts, among other reforms.
  • H.R. 1505 (Lowenthal) Bonding Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act – Legislation to revise bonding requirements for oil and gas development and better ensure that developers have adequate financial resources for reclamation and restoration of public lands. 
  • H.R. 1517 (Porter) Ending Taxpayer Welfare for Oil and Gas Companies Act – Legislation to increase onshore royalty rates, rental rates, minimum bid amounts, and inspection fees and penalties.

118th Congress

  • H.R. 3377 (Susie Lee) End Speculative Oil and Gas Leasing Act – Bicameral legislation to cut wasteful speculation and allow lands with low or no oil and gas potential to be reprioritized for better uses.
  • H.R. 4301 (Porter) – Legislation to amend the Mineral Leasing Act to make certain adjustments to the regulation of surface-disturbing activities and to protect taxpayers from unduly bearing the reclamation costs of oil and gas development, and for other purposes.
  • H.R. 4302 (Porter) – Legislation to provide for the accurate reporting of fossil fuel extraction and emissions by entities with leases on public land, and for other purposes.

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Lindsay Gressard