Interior Dept. says government should hike federal drilling fees in part to combat climate change

Report falls short of claiming that new drilling should be halted.

Updated: November 27, 2021 - 2:22pm

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The Department of the Interior this week issued a long-awaited report that called for an increase in federal oil and gas drilling fees in part to combat the potential threat of climate change.

The report, a “review of Federal oil and gas leasing and permitting practices,” found that current federal policy “fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers.”

The report’s recommendations suggest that the federal government should consider “raising royalty rates and, to the extent allowed by statute” and “increasing the current minimum levels for bids, rents, royalties, and bonds.”

The proposals were sharply criticized by environmental activists, who have looked to the Biden administration to take drastic measures against new drilling, including banning new federal drilling leases altogether, something President Joe Biden had vowed to do while in office. 

“These trivial changes are nearly meaningless in the midst of this climate emergency, and they break Biden's campaign promise to stop new oil and gas leasing on public lands," Randi Spivak, the public lands program director of the Center for Biological Diversity, told CNN.

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