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The Trump Administration is Prioritizing Tax Relief for Mismanaged Oil Companies Over Working People

by Ryan Schleeter

May 20, 2020

"The White House’s latest response to the COVID-19 pandemic boils down to a massive tax cut for the most polluting industry in history."

Washington, DC — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has already granted royalty rate reductions for 76 oil and gas leases between April 30 and May 18, despite early opposition to the policy from Trump himself. BLM has approved every petition for royalty relief so far, all of which have been in Utah. BLM guidance circulated in April encouraged oil and gas producers to apply for either a suspension of federal leases or a reduced royalty rate.

In response, Greenpeace USA Climate Campaigner Charlie Jiang said:

“The White House’s latest response to the COVID-19 pandemic boils down to a massive tax cut for the most polluting industry in history. Oil and gas corporations already pay pennies compared to what they make in profits from plundering public lands — land that belongs to the American people — and now they’ll pay even less. There’s no guarantee that reducing or suspending royalty payments will benefit workers and families who depend on fossil fuel jobs, but could easily be used to further enrich CEOs and shareholders.

“The Interior Department’s priorities could not be more wrong. Nurses need masks. Essential workers need paid leave, hazard pay, and childcare. Employees need paychecks. People need help all over this country. But every day the Trump administration ignores their pleas and caters to billionaire donors instead. Congress must step in and stop this ill-fated oil bailout by passing the ReWIND Act before it goes any further.”

Royalty payments to the Treasury Department total in the billions each year [1], money that goes to supporting initiatives like the Historic Preservation Fund and Land and Water Conservation Fund [2]. Instead of a no-strings-attached bailout for the oil industry, Greenpeace has issued six policy priorities [3] for Congress to consider in upcoming relief and recovery packages.

ENDS

Notes:

[1] The US Treasury collected about $3.8 billion in royalty payments, rent, and other fees from offshore oil producers in 2019, according to an Interior Department database. And onshore, companies typically pay a royalty rate of 12.5 percent for oil and natural gas under a rate established in 1920: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-03/billions-in-oil-royalty-payments-at-stake-as-trump-weighs-relief

[2] For more information on how federal revenue from fossil fuel extraction on public lands is allocated: https://revenuedata.doi.gov/how-it-works/#disbursements

[3] The six policy priorities are explained in detail in a letter sent to Congressional leadership on April 28, 2020: https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/greenpeaces-priorities-for-upcoming-covid-19-stimulus-packages/

Contact: Ryan Schleeter, Senior Communications Specialist, Greenpeace USA: +1 (415) 342-2386, [email protected]

Ryan Schleeter

By Ryan Schleeter

Ryan Schleeter is a senior communications specialist with Greenpeace USA covering climate and energy. His writing has appeared in National Geographic, Grist, GreenBiz, EcoWatch, and more. Find him on Twitter @ryschlee.

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