NRDC Joins Effort to Stop More Giveaways to Polluters

NRDC and partner groups filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit this week to stop the Trump Administration from giving another gift to polluters by short-changing the US taxpayer.

NRDC filed a motion to join California and New Mexico in their suit against the US Department of Interior to stop the reopening of a loophole that was closed by the Obama Administration. The loophole allows coal, oil and gas companies to avoid paying proper royalties for coal, oil and gas they extract from federally-owned lands.

Royalty revenues from coal, oil and gas sold from federal lands are split 50/50 with states. That’s why California and New Mexico have an interest here. NRDC is representing the Northern Plains Resource Council, The Wilderness Society, and the Western Organization of Resource Councils in our legal action.

The Interior Department estimates reopening the loophole will cost taxpayers about $75 million a year, though independent analysts say the giveaway will be much greater. The move is just another in the Trump Administration’s assault on America’s public lands.

If you’re looking for any perspective on this, consider the Interior Department’s recent decision to almost triple the cost of admission to America’s most treasured national parks. Hiking the entrance fees will raise about $70 million, Interior says, to help cover the multi-billion-dollar maintenance backlog at National Parks. That still leaves the American Taxpayer at least $5 million in the red, thanks to this royalty rate loophole.

Here’s the bottom line:

Public lands belong to all of us.  They provide us with clean water and places to pursue hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, and other outdoor recreation.  They are home to our nation’s most treasured landscapes and wildlife.  They invigorate local economies and contribute to the public health of communities across the nation.   Most Americans believe these lands should be preserved and protected for this and future generations, not sold off for the profit of private interests.

About the Authors

Theo Spencer

Senior Advocate, Dirty Energy, Lands Division, Nature Program

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