Locked Out: The Cost of Speculation in Federal Oil and Gas Leases | Taxpayers for Common Sense

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Locked Out: The Cost of Speculation in Federal Oil and Gas Leases

October 03, 2017
Programs: Energy

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Taxpayers for Common Sense’s latest report – Locked Out: The Cost of Speculation in Federal Oil and Gas Leases – underlines the extent to which the federal oil and gas leasing system, which is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of the Department of Interior, undervalues public land by allowing private interests to hold it cheaply without producing oil and gas, preventing other uses of the land.

In president Ryan Alexander’s words, “As the owners of federal lands and resources, US taxpayers have the right to fair market compensation for all public natural resources, as would any private landowner. Accordingly, taxpayers should be appropriately compensated when the land we all own is leased to private businesses.”

But the current leasing system causes taxpayers to lose out when federal land is leased to speculators who don’t produce oil and gas. These speculative leases also prevent the land from being used by others.

The report found that more than a quarter of all non-producing leases issued in the last decade in six western states had one or more characteristics of “unreasonable speculation.” In total, more than 3,000 leases covering more than 3.1 million acres of federal land were found to be unreasonably speculative.

“Some speculative investment in oil and gas leasing is customary. But, our report contends that if lots of parcels are being leased with speculative characteristics, then the system is  too permissive of speculative behavior and taxpayers are not being fairly compensated for the land and resources they own,” said Alexander.

“In the face of a $19 trillion national debt, we hope Secretary Zinke institutes much needed reforms to the oil and gas leasing program to ensure taxpayers get a fair return on the resources we all own.”



Filed under: Avoid Unnecessary Liabilities, Ensure Fair Returns

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