Western Values Project issued a statement regarding the Trump administration’s plan to plow forward with pending oil and gas lease sales and policy decisions despite the national health crisis and rock-bottom oil and gas prices. The news follows a bailout push by the Trump administration that would give oil and gas corporations another major taxpayer-funded handout.
Statement by Western Values Project Director Jayson O’Neill calling on the Interior Department to suspend all pending public comment periods, oil and gas lease sales, and policy decisions
“Secretary Bernhardt and the Interior Department must immediately suspend all open public comment periods, halt oil and gas lease sales, and delay any rule and policy decisions until the department and the Trump administration have a plan to address this growing crisis.
If the Trump administration is going to wrongly hand out a major corporate oil and gas taxpayer-funded bailout while plowing forward with lease sales on public lands during this national crisis, what assurances do American taxpayers have that their money won’t be used to buy the same oil and gas leases that are still scheduled to be sold?
Trump’s unchecked energy dominance agenda certainly assisted in creating the oil glut that was part of the dramatic price drop as a result of the coronavirus health crisis. The idea that Interior would continue to plow forward with oil and gas lease sales and decisions that impact our public lands and health is both incredibly tone-deaf and a disservice to the public.”
Last week, Western Values Project called on the Trump administration to focus on the growing health crisis, not oil and gas corporate bailouts. Rep. Raul Grijalva also pressed the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Acting Director William Pendley for answers on why the administration is planning to prioritize oil industry bailouts over the public’s immediate needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic – and received none. Sec. Bernhardt told Congress last week that Deputy Secretary Kate MacGregor was in charge of developing a plan, but nothing has been made public, causing confusion and elevating risks for Interior agencies and career employees. Western Values Project has submitted public records requests regarding the department’s coronavirus planning and communications through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Ongoing, long-term subsidies enjoyed by the oil industry such as low royalty rates have been celebrated and continued within the Trump administration, unabated. Under the already grossly outdated royalty rate, taxpayers have lost $12.4 billion in revenue from oil and gas drilling on federal lands over the last decade according to a recent study by Taxpayers for Common Sense.
In addition to the oil and gas industry already rapidly scooping up public lands at rock-bottom prices, the Trump administration reportedly is considering altering other policies that already cost the public significantly: