LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Today, the Nevada Conservation League applauded Senator Rosen (D-NV) and Senator Grassley (R-IA) for introducing the Fair Return for Public Lands Act, a bipartisan, common-sense update to the 101-year old oil and gas leasing royalty policy to recognize the value of our public lands and ensure a fair return to taxpayers.
“Currently, antiquated federal oil and gas leasing policy allows companies to pay insultingly low rates, often as low as two dollars per acre, to drill on Nevada’s public lands. This practice fails to generate a fair return — and in many cases, hardly any — to Nevadans whose tax dollars are used to fund this system,” said Nevada Conservation League Executive Director Paul Selberg. “We are grateful to Senator Rosen for identifying and supporting a common-sense solution to the century-old oil and gas leasing system that modernizes royalty rates and ensures Nevadans aren’t getting shortchanged on revenue-generating opportunities critical to funding public education and health care in the Silver State. The Nevada Conservation League is proud to support the Fair Return for Public Lands Act and will continue to support policies that put our communities, public lands, and natural resources ahead of special interests.”
According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, if oil and gas rental rates had been adjusted for inflation starting in 1987, Nevadans would have received an additional $25 million dollars from outdated rental rates alone between FY 2009-2018. That is $2.5 million dollars a year that could have helped fund our public schools, strengthen healthcare coverage, and improve transportation in Nevada. Senator Rosen and Senator Grassley’s bill would require inflationary adjustments every four years to ensure oil and gas companies are paying the fair market value for the use of public lands for drilling.
Nevadans are shown to strongly support legislation to improve the oil and gas leasing program. Colorado College’s Conservation in the West poll found that 70% of Nevadans want to boost the federal royalty rate to 25%, which is well above the increase to 18.75% included in the Senators’ bill.
The bill adds to an array of federal efforts to deter oil and gas leasing on public lands. Earlier this month, Senator Cortez Masto reintroduced the End Speculative Oil and Gas Leasing Act and Ruby Mountains Protect Act to prohibit the Bureau of Land Management from leasing public lands to oil and gas that bare little to no potential for development, including Nevada’s Ruby Mountains which have faced recent threats of drilling.
The bill is also consistent with President Biden’s executive order to suspend oil and gas leasing on public lands and grants the authority and flexibility of the Interior Department to adjust royalties associated with coal, oil, and gas resources extracted from public lands.