On April 21, 2019 the charter of the Royalty Policy Committee (RPC) – an outside advisory group sanctioned in March of 2017 by then-Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke – expired, halting any further work by the committee. The RPC, its subcommittees, and working groups are disbanded until such time as the current Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt reauthorizes the charter. It is unclear when or even if, Secretary Bernhardt will reauthorize the committee’s charter.
The RPC was intended by Secretary Bernhardt’s predecessor to evaluate current policies governing the management of federal natural resources at the Department of the Interior (DOI) and advise his department on possible reforms. The committee’s charter states it will provide “advice to the Secretary” and “ensure the public receives the full value of the natural resources produced from Federal lands.”
In practice, committee members pushed industry interests at the expense of federal taxpayers. This was reflected in several of the RPC’s recommendations that sought to reduce royalty rates from offshore oil and gas production, and to revise royalty payment calculations from natural gas production. To its credit, in response to public outcry over the skewed nature of its membership, the RPC sought additional “public interest” members, but has not filled these positions, despite closing the application process last November. President of Taxpayers for Common Sense, Ryan Alexander was in the running to fill a public interest position on the committee.
Since 2017, the committee has held four public meetings. First in Washington, DC, followed by meetings in Houston, Albuquerque, and Denver. The meetings provided a forum for the various subcommittees (see chart above) to advance policy recommendations for review before they are put to a vote by the whole committee and are formally transmitted to DOI and its sub agencies. TCS president Ryan Alexander has provided comments to the committee each time it has convened.