Interior Department Report Endorses Key Goals of Rosen-Introduced Bipartisan Legislation to Correct Shortcomings in Federal Oil and Gas Leasing Program

WASHINGTON DC – U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) announced today that a recent report issued by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) — following a comprehensive review of federal oil and gas leasing and permitting practices — endorses the key goals of her bipartisan Fair Returns for Public Lands Act to fix major shortcomings in the current program.

“This report offers long-overdue reforms to the federal oil and gas leasing program, and I’m pleased to see the Interior Department recommend the key goals of my bipartisan legislation to ensure that taxpayers and rural communities get fair returns on leases of public lands for oil and gas production,” dijo el Senador Rosen. “The proposed changes outlined in the report would be an important step to bring our federal leasing system into the 21st century and ensure that state and local governments across the nation receive fair compensation.” 

Senators Rosen and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in June urging DOI to include their bipartisan legislation as a policy recommendation in their finalized report. The Senators’ legislation seeks to update the nation’s outdated public lands royalty system and ensure that taxpayers and rural communities get fair returns on leases of public lands for oil and gas production.

Senators Rosen and Grassley introduced the Fair Returns for Public Lands Act in March. It would increase the royalty rate from 12.5 percent to 18.75 percent, which could raise at least $1 billion a year in federal revenue, with an equivalent amount returned to the states where the oil or gas is being extracted. This bill will also increase the minimum bid for oil and gas leases and the rates for reinstated oil and gas leases, which will discourage developers from holding onto leases on public lands they do not intend to actually explore or develop. According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, the state of Nevada has lost more than $50 million in revenue over the last decade because of outdated annual rental rates and minimum bid prices.

Senator Rosen also recently helped introduce the Competitive Onshore Mineral Policy via Eliminating Taxpayer-Enabled Speculation (COMPETES) Act, legislation that would end the current practice of leasing non-competitive taxpayer-owned public lands to private oil and gas companies for as little as $1.50 per acre. Non-competitive leasing is often abused by companies who nominate lands for auction with no intention of bidding on them so they can acquire them later at a minimal cost.