Revenue from drilling on public lands increased by a third last year

Revenue collected and dispersed assets from energy production on public lands rose by billions in fiscal year 2019, according to new data released by the Interior Department Thursday.

Revenues from energy sources, such as drilling of oil and gas on and offshore, rose to nearly $12 billion, an increase of 31 percent over the previous year. Disbursements rose to $11.69 billion compared to the previous year’s $8.93 billion with 35 states receiving more than $2.44 billion, according to the data.

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Interior officials hailed the growth in capital amidst the Trump administration’s push for increased oil and gas drilling on public lands.

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“The President believes we can appropriately develop our natural resources and be great stewards of conservation,” Secretary David Bernhardt said in a statement. 

“The disbursements paid to states and Tribes from energy development revenues go right back to the communities where the energy was produced, providing critical funding for schools, public services, conservation improvements, and infrastructure projects that create good-paying American jobs.”

The agency attributed the growth to higher oil and gas production volumes that offset the market price decrease in the fossil fuels. 

The U.S. in 2018 became the top producer of crude oil globally.

The announcement came the same day the Government Accountability Office found Interior’s valuation process for royalty rates “might not fully assure receipt of fair market value.” The watchdog found that more opportunities existed to ensure a better return on natural resource sales on public land. 

“We found the bureau systematically underestimates the value of offshore oil and gas leases, resulting in the government collecting hundreds of millions of dollars less than it otherwise could,” the report reads.

A separate report from the government watchdog in July found that the federal government for nearly a decade has not been adequately collecting owed royalty revenues from oil and gas companies who drill on public lands.

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