Washington, D.C. — Last week, the Biden administration released its oil and gas public lands leasing report, which showed that the current leasing program fails to provide taxpayers a fair return, protect the environment, or adequately incorporate perspectives from Americans who are most impacted by harmful Big Oil activities in their regions.
Unsurprisingly, in response, opponents of conservation in the oil and gas industry and in state office were quick to falsely attack the Interior Department’s findings, making dubious and sometimes hypocritical claims in an attempt to undermine the administration and its widely popular conservation and climate action efforts.
“Big Oil and its lobbyists will say and do anything to ensure they aren’t forced to pay their fair share for profiting off of public lands,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “The American people deserve to benefit fully from the use of our nation’s public lands, and any oil and gas company trying to fight that effort simply doesn’t have the public’s best interest at heart, no matter their rhetoric.”
See below for some of the key comments from oil industry interests — and the evidence that their claims are far from accurate.
RHETORIC: The American Petroleum Institute (API) claimed reforms would force the U.S. to rely on OPEC and raise energy prices.
REALITY: API made this claim the same day U.S. crude oil prices tanked — the largest one-day plunge since the beginning of the pandemic.
RHETORIC: Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon called the Interior Department report “a frontal assault on western lands” that “encourages increasing the cost of producing oil and gas in Wyoming by hiking the royalty rate.”
REALITY: Just one year ago, as Gordon led the charge fear mongering that President Biden would end all federal leasing, he funded a study that said an end to leasing would be devastating because states rely on royalty revenue. While the administration’s report doesn’t call for ending leasing, it does increase the return states like Wyoming would get from the program. These extra revenues might have been helpful last year when Wyoming was in a budget crisis and Gordon had to lop 10% off the state’s budget.
RHETORIC: The president of Western Energy Alliance incorrectly conflated the Department of the Interior report’s recommendations with “stopping all leasing” on federal lands.
REALITY: The administration’s report doesn’t call for ending leasing. It recommends changes that would ensure taxpayers get a fairer value from public lands oil and gas production.
RHETORIC: The Independent Petroleum Association of America claimed the Department of the Interior report’s recommendations would build more barriers and raise consumer energy prices.
REALITY: Oil and gas companies benefit financially from high oil prices — and the industry is on track to make record profits in 2021. And despite frequent fear mongering from Big Oil about the prices Americans have to pay at the pump, there is not a clear correlation between public lands oil production and retail gasoline prices.
The price of gasoline is dictated by many economic factors — in fact, the same day Interior’s report was released, oil prices dropped 13%.
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