In order to pay for tax cuts, Congress is considering other sources of potential revenue.
One of these is the potential for $1 billion in new revenue from opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas drilling.
This is another budget gimmick that is only going to drive up the federal debt. If Congress needs to find more revenue from energy development on federal lands or waters, there are a lot of options that would produce $1 billion, and do it more quickly than counting on new and speculative development.
If you care about honest budgeting in Congress, consider writing your local paper about this issue.
Taxpayers for Common Sense is not opposed to oil and gas drilling if the numbers work for taxpayers.
That is, if we are adequately paid for our resources and we are not left with clean-up or other liabilities. Onshore, offshore, Texas, Florida or Alaska, take your pick.
But the federal government has a terrible track record getting taxpayers a fair return for the oil and gas resources we all own.
American taxpayers shoulder liabilities that should be carried by industry, we undercharge and under collect royalties and fees, we provide lucrative tax breaks to industry and we sell when the market is low. Bottom line: Taxpayers subsidize and provide giveaways to the oil and gas industry throughout the entire leasing process.
If Congress needs to find more revenue from energy development on federal lands or waters, there are a lot of options:
- Cleaning up federal leasing programs by charging appropriate royalties and rental fees could generate well over $1 billion;
- Enact a royalty on gold, silver and copper mined on federal lands;
- raise decades-old grazing fees; or
- collect on dozens of royalty-free oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico, potentially earning taxpayers more than $10 billion, depending on production levels.
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As Congress is looking for ways to make up lost revenue from cutting taxes, it should be realistic about what it proposes. For example, opening new areas of Alaska, like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas drilling is a wildly speculative proposal that could be a total bust.
We are currently $20 trillion dollars in debt because year after year Congress cannot make responsible budgetary decisions. If Congress needs to find more revenue from energy development on federal lands or waters, there are a lot of options that would produce $1 billion, and do it more quickly than counting on new and speculative development.
There are a range of activities the government could take to increase federal income from oil and gas leasing without significantly reducing production, such as encouraging more competition between firms for rights to drill on federal lands. The government could raise the fees for thousands of nonproducing leases companies are just sitting on. It could update the General Mining Law of 1872 and charge a royalty on gold, silver, and copper mined on federal lands.
Instead of updating archaic rules to find new revenue, Congress wants to count money we may never see, and even if we do could take decades to materialize. This is why we have a huge national debt, because Members of Congress budget irresponsibly.