Loopholes and subsidies for coal companies cost taxpayers $1 billion per year
Coal companies mining on public lands are selling coal to their own subsidiaries at artificially low prices, dodging hundreds of millions in royalties owed to U.S. taxpayers and to Western states. These, and taxpayer-funded subsidies, lead to losses of at least $1 billion a year owed to American taxpayers and state governments.
Outdated royalty rates cost taxpayers up to $730 million per year
Oil companies lease land from the federal government and pay royalties on the oil and gas that is produced. But the federal government has a low royalty rate – much lower than rates charged by Western oil producing states like Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. This gap shortchanges American taxpayers up to $730 million per year. State taxpayers in Western states, which get an even split of federal royalty revenues, also lose out.
Oil companies can obtain an acre of public land for less than the price of a big mac
The minimum bid required to obtain public lands at oil and gas auctions stands at $2.00 per acre, an amount that has not been increased in decades. In 2014, oil companies obtained nearly 100,000 acres in Western states for only $2.00 per acre.
Companies can sit on public lands for less than a cup of coffee
Oil companies are sitting on nearly 22 million acres of American lands without producing oil and gas from them. It costs only $1.50 per year to keep public lands idle, which provides little incentive to generate oil and gas or avoid land speculation. Adjusting the rental rate up to just $3.00 for the first five years of a lease and $5.00 thereafter would have generated an additional $56 million for taxpayers over the course of one year.
Taxpayers are losing tens of millions on natural gas that is going “up in smoke”
The oil and gas industry costs American taxpayers upwards of $50 million in federal royalties every year because of methane that is flared or vented at well sites or from leaky pipes and equipment. Between 2008 and 2013, methane waste from drilling operations on America’s public lands increased by more than 51 percent. Westerners overwhelmingly support an end to this wasteful practice.
Oil Companies leave taxpayers on the hook for cleaning up
Before drilling on public lands, companies must post a bond – or insurance – to ensure they comply with all terms of the lease, including cleanup costs. But extremely low bond levels set in 1951 provide little incentive for oil and gas companies to clean up after their mess. The costs of restoring a single well can be tens of thousands of times more than the value of the bond. In recent years, millions of American taxpayer dollars have been spent cleaning up after deadbeat companies who failed to reclaim and restore abandoned oil and gas well sites.
Taxpayers must pay oil and gas inspection and enforcement fees on public lands
Oil companies drilling offshore pay for the costs of inspecting wells. But on onshore public lands, American taxpayers are responsible for covering the costs of inspecting oil and gas wells and ensuring that the law is enforced. In recent years, budget cuts have made it impossible to inspect all high-risk wells, leaving communities and public lands more vulnerable to accidents.