STATEMENT on Congressional Efforts to Stop Taxpayers from Receiving a Fair Share from Public Coal, Oil and Gas

Dec 11, 2015

DENVER—In response to reports that Representatives Ryan Zinke (R-MT) and Steve Pearce (R-NM) are attempting to block an increase in the royalties companies pay when extracting coal, oil, and gas from national public lands, the Center for Western Priorities issued the following statement from executive director Jennifer Rokala:

“Westerners continue to be shortchanged by developers on U.S. public lands. By trying to stop taxpayers from getting a fair share from the resources we all own, Representatives Zinke and Pearce are working against the interests of the people of Montana and New Mexico, and instead carrying water for oil, gas, and coal industry executives.”

In November, the Obama administration announced it would propose a draft rule modernizing oil and gas royalties, taking the first step toward updating a system that hasn’t changed significantly in nearly 100 years.

Under current law, companies pay a 12.5 percent royalty to American taxpayers for extracting publicly-owned oil and gas. That rate is well below the rates states charge for drilling on state-owned land, typically 16.67–18.75 percent. If national royalty rates were in line with state royalty rates, five Western states would see an additional $490 million to $730 million in revenue a year.

This summer, the Bureau of Land Management conducted a listening tour as part of its process to reform coal royalty rates on public land. Independent studies have shown coal companies pay an effective royalty rate of only 4.9 percent after tax breaks and subsidies.

CWP executive director Jennifer Rokala is available for interviews about royalty rates. To schedule an interview, contact media director Aaron Weiss at 720-279-0019 or