Interior Department report calls for higher oil and gas royalties, Alaska senator Murkowski objects

A file photo of a site in the National Petroleum Reserve on Alaska’s North Slope. (Mark Thiessen/AP/CP)

new report from the Interior Department says the U.S. taxpayer isn’t getting enough benefit from oil and gas leasing on federal lands.

The Biden administration’s blueprint, released the day after Thanksgiving, calls for an increase in the royalty rate — the percentage of revenue oil and gas producers have to pay to the government. It also says companies need to provide a higher level of bond to ensure taxpayers aren’t stuck paying to rehabilitate old wells if the operator refuses to do the work or goes bankrupt.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski slammed the report, saying on Monday that it’s intended to drive oil and gas production off federal lands. She said that would make the U.S. more dependent on foreign production and increase energy prices.

The report doesn’t make any regulatory changes but some of the concepts are already included in the so-called “social infrastructure” bill the House passed before the Thanksgiving holiday. Murkowski said the harm to domestic energy production is one reason among many the Senate should reject that bill.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada:  44 per cent increase in unique ships entering Canada’s Northwest Passage, says report, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Shipping, climate & business opportunities in the North: Q&A with the Arctic Economic Council, Eye on the Arctic

Russia: North Russian regions want extension of Arctic shipping route, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Northern Sweden expects population boom from green investments, Radio Sweden

United States: Biden administration lets stand a judgment thwarting Willow, a ConocoPhillips drilling project in Arctic, Alaska Public Media

Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media

For more news from Alaska visit Alaska Public Media.

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