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Comments to the Interior Department’s Royalty Policy Committee

We recently submitted comments to the Department of the Interior’s Royalty Policy Committee (“RPC”) in advance of the Committee’s third public meeting of the year. As we have discussed in past papers and public comments, existing royalty rates fail to account for the full costs of fossil fuel production, including local and global air pollution.

Our joint letter to the RPC, co-authored with several environmental organizations and public lands experts, contains recommendations for the Committee. We encourage the RPC to establish public participation as a central feature of federal land management and to provide better information about public revenue from land leasing and royalty systems. We ask the RPC to ensure that royalty rates accurately reflect fossil fuel extraction costs, the costs of greenhouse gas emissions, and the fair market value of energy products. We argue that the RPC should support regulations designed to curtail the venting and flaring of methane from fossil fuel production, and apply royalties to methane produced but wasted because available technology was not used to prevent such releases. And we urge the RPC to consider leasing practices that will result in more competition, as opposed to offering many tracts for lease at once. Other signatories on the comment letter include the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and experts from the Montana Department of Revenue and the Center for American Progress.