Feds: No decision on onshore royalties; fracking rules coming next month
Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey on Tuesday contradicted recent comments by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who had said the department planned to propose boosting the current onshore royalty rate by 50%—from 12.5% to 18.75%—to make it equivalent to the offshore rate, The Houston Chronicle reports. "We have completed analyses and are continuing to assess options before us," Abbey told the House Natural Resources Committee's Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee. "But let me assure you, there has been no final decision to increase onshore royalty rates." Salazar told Congress last month that his department planned to raise the onshore royalty rate to ensure that taxpayers get a fair return on the development of oil and gas leases on public lands. The onshore royalty rate hasn't been raised since the 1920s, and government reports have suggested the current rate brings in less money than states receive, Interior officials have said. Industry groups such as the Denver-based Western Energy Alliance and some Republicans oppose raising the royalty rate because they contend the current rate reflects additional costs for drillers stemming from federal regulations and application reviews. Abbey also told the committee that his agency hoped to unveil in April its highly anticipated rules for hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as "fracking," on federal lands. Get more details from the full story here.
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