Trump Administration Grants Millions in Oil and Gas Royalty and Rent Cuts

by | May 20, 2020

The Bureau of Land Management has granted every request to date by oil and gas drillers for royalty rate cuts, according to reporting by the Associated Press — all of which so far have come from Utah oil and gas producers. The BLM slashed the rates for Utah from 12.5% to 2.5%, and is likely to grant similar cuts to other states as well. Although the royalty relief is limited to 60 days, the reductions will probably put a sizable dent in the federal government’s onshore oil and gas royalties for 2020, which totaled $2.9 billion in 2019, according to AP, including $94 million from Utah. About half that amount went to the state government. Back in late March, a group of Republican senators asked Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to offer royalty relief and automatic lease extensions for oil and gas operations on public lands. Status: As of May 20, 2020, the agency continues to accept applications for reduced royalties.

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Amy Westervelt is the editor-in-chief of Drilled News, creator and host of the Drilled podcast, and founder of the Critical Frequency podcast network, named AdWeek's Podcast Network of the Year in 2019. An award-winning print and audio journalist, Amy has contributed to The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, as well as KQED, The California Report, Capital Public Radio, and many other outlets. She is the 2015 winner of the Rachel Carson award for "women greening journalism," and a 2016 winner of an Edward R. Murrow award for her series on the impacts of the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada. In 2019, the Drilled podcast won the Online News Association's "Excellence in Audio Storytelling" award.

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Emily J. Gertz is senior editor of Drilled News. A longtime environmental reporter and editor, her work has appeared in HuffPost, Reveal, Arctic Today, The Guardian, Popular Science, Scientific American, Sierra, and more.