New York Times readers would have noticed the lead story today questions whether the U.S. Government has been collecting the correct amount of royalty revenue from oil and natural gas produced on publicly-owned lands. Sen. Bingaman (D-NM), top Democrat on the Energy Committee, is troubled by these charges and is asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate them.
“In this time of high oil and gas prices, I’m especially concerned by the alleged under-collection of royalties from public lands,” Bingaman said. “This is an important, complicated issue, and we need to get the facts. That’s why I’m asking GAO to look into these charges.”
Bingaman will seek GAO’s review and analysis on the adequacy of the royalty accounting and collection process for oil and gas produced from Federal and Tribal lands. He also will ask GAO to review and report as to why royalty collections are not increasing at a rate comparable to the rise in natural gas prices, and to review the adequacy of the Interior Department’s audit capabilities. We will distribute a copy of the request letter tomorrow.