House passes massive giveaway to oil and gas companies

Apr 28, 2023

Unable to win support in the Senate for their misguided policies, fossil fuel allies in the House have resorted to trying to use the debt limit to pass their massive giveaway to oil and gas companies. Late on Wednesday, the House narrowly passed H.R.2811 which would lift the debt limit, avoiding the economic catastrophe that would ensue if the U.S. defaults on its debt payments, but it also includes a slew of unrelated priorities on various energy and natural resource topics. Most of these provisions are recycled from H.R.1, the House leadership’s marquee energy package which passed the House earlier this spring and went nowhere in the Senate.

Among other things, H.R.2811 (like H.R.1 before it) once again tries to reverse many of the Inflation Reduction Act’s reforms to the onshore oil and gas leasing program: the bill would return royalty rates, minimum bids, and rental rates to the outdated rates that were put in place in 1920; eliminate the fees companies pay to nominate land for leasing; restore noncompetitive leasing, letting companies lock up public land for just $1.50 an acre; and impose a per-page fee for exercising the right to protest lease sales. The bill would also require quarterly lease sales to be held in a variety of states, including several Western states, and remove the Interior Secretary’s authority to determine which lands are eligible for oil and gas leasing. This provision would pave the way for companies—or anyone—to lock up public lands by nominating and leasing parcels regardless of their oil and gas production potential or any other values and uses of the land

Like H.R.1 before it, H.R.2811 is almost certain to die immediately in the Senate, and President Joe Biden has said he will veto it if it gets to his desk. Unlike the death of H.R.1, however, failure to increase the debt limit will have drastic impacts for the American economy. Tying the debt limit to unpopular and unpassable policies demonstrates that fossil fuel allies in the House care only about giveaways to oil and gas companies and are unserious about legislating in the best interests of the American people.

Quick hits

House debt limit ‘stunt’ focuses more on energy policy than reducing debt

New York Times | Reuters | E&E News

Nevadans, conservationists criticize Cortez Masto’s mine waste dumping bill

Las Vegas Sun | Nevada Current [editorial]

Colorado leaders rally against railway project that would carry crude oil along Colorado River

CPR News

In the game of musical mines, environmental damage takes a back seat


A new rush to find gold in the Sierra Nevada foothills

New York Times

Film takes viewers on trip down Dolores River, shows the challenge of keeping it flowing

Next 9News

Opinion: The act of getting involved in public land decisions

Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Only ewes can prevent forest fires


Quote of the day

”Just when we think we got a small win, the industry calls in a favor for those donations. This move by Senator Cortez Masto is disappointing; we thought she was an ally of the environment.”

—Fermina Stevens, Western Shoshone Defense Project director, Nevada Current

Picture this

A view into the Black Canyon gorge with the sun rising behind the canyon rim to the right

The views at @blackcanyonnps in Colorado are epic. The Black Canyon is incredibly deep and sheer, with plunging cliffs, soaring buttresses and a thundering river that rushes past the narrow walls exposing some of the oldest rocks in North America, dating back nearly two billion years.

The Painted Wall (pictured) is the highest cliff in Colorado and one of the most dramatic sights in the park. For comparison, four Washington Monuments stacked on top of each would be roughly the same height as the wall.

Photo by Eric Ritchie

(featured image: Oil and gas development in Wyoming, Bureau of Land Management)