Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Rep. Markey Blasts New Give Aways from the MMService

The Houston Chronicle reported on this over the holiday:

A rule change proposed by the U.S. Interior Department could cost taxpayers $10 billion in lost royalty payments from oil and natural gas companies, a lawmaker says.

"The Bush administration couldn't leave town for the holidays without giving one last taxpayer-funded gift to Big Oil," Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said Friday in a statement. The total loss in revenue would be over 26 years, according to the statement.

The Minerals Management Service, which oversees royalty payments for the Interior Department, issued a proposed rule Friday that it said would conform payments for leases in the Outer Continental Shelf to a 2004 federal court ruling.

The court found leases couldn't be excluded from royalty relief if they were part of a field that was producing before the 1995 act went into effect. That legislation offered relief from royalty payments for companies drilling in deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico in an effort to spur development.

The rule is open for public comment until Feb. 19.

The rule change is unrelated to an Oct. 30 court ruling the department lost to Kerr-McGee, a subsidiary of Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

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