Biden increases oil royalty rate and scales back lease sales on federal lands

Read the headline of this post again. That isn’t a Rio Grande Foundation effort to skew what the Biden Administration is doing to keep gas prices higher than they need to be. In fact, we “stole” the headline from this National Public Radio story.

We’ve been (justifiably) critical of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland for her inaction, even muteness on the issue of energy prices. So, it is hardly a shock that she and the Biden Administration took this step on the Friday before the Easter Holiday. The “step” being taken involves increasing the royalty rate for new oil and gas leases to 18.75% from 12.5%. That’s the equivalent of a 50% tax hike.

Furthermore, according to NPR, while the Biden Administration is complying with court orders to resume onshore oil and gas leasing, the “Leases for 225 square miles (580 square kilometers) of federal lands primarily in the West will be offered for sale in a notice to be posted on Monday, officials said. The parcels represent about 30% less land than officials had proposed for sale in November and 80% less than what was originally nominated by the industry.”

The Administration’s decision will directly impact New Mexico with the number of oil and gas leases reduced by 80% from a total of 26 to just 5.

Secretary Haaland took the time to speak agains the oil and gas industry saying, “For too long, the federal oil and gas leasing programs have prioritized the wants of extractive industries. Today, we begin to reset how and what we consider to be the highest and best use of Americans’ resources.”