More wonderful news out of Washington. The federal government is going to give up collecting many billions of dollars of royalty payments from oil companies over the next few years. This at a time when oil is at record prices.
In the same vein of their move to open the nation’s old growth forests to timber companies, and working feverishly to allow drilling for oil in the pristine Alaskan wilderness, now comes the next step – the feds will stop collecting the royalties imposed on oil companies for drilling on public land.
According to The Times:
"The federal government is on the verge of one of the biggest giveaways of oil and gas in American history, worth an estimated $7 billion over five years.
New projections, buried in the Interior Department's just-published budget plan, anticipate that the government will let companies pump about $65 billion worth of oil and natural gas from federal territory over the next five years without paying any royalties to the government.
Based on the administration figures, the government will give up more than $7 billion in payments between now and 2011. The companies are expected to get the largess, known as royalty relief, even though the administration assumes that oil prices will remain above $50 a barrel throughout that period."
- NY Times
The administration claims this giveaway is required, a result of laws passed to encourage exploration at a time when oil was $10 a barrel.
So change the damn law then. I would also take that argument more seriously if Bush and House Republicans weren’t already trying to kill a one-year, $5 billion windfall profits tax for oil companies that the Senate passed last fall.
That $30 million pension Dick “Duck” Cheney is getting from Halliburton was a helluva investment for that company.
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