Updated at 1:34 p.m. on Sept. 16.
Last week, House Natural Resources Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., introduced legislation that would change the ground rules for oil and gas development on federal lands. The bill would create a new Interior Department agency to oversee oil and gas development and would scrap the existing federal royalty system. It would also push oil companies to speed exploration on federal lands, rather than holding leases for prolonged periods of time.
Rahall's bill is the latest offering in congressional efforts to reform federal minerals policy law. Proponents say the changes are needed in response to charges last year that Mineral Management Service employees were involved in a sex and drug scandal involving oil and gas company representatives. Also last year, Congress lifted a federal moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf.
In light of those events, should Congress overhaul federal mineral policy law? What impact would Rahall's bill have on resource development in the U.S.? What parts of the bills do you support? What changes do you recommend?
Salazar Ending Royalty-In-Kind Program
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced today that he is terminating what he referred to as the "controversial" royalty-in-kind program, under which the government accepts oil and natural gas from producers instead of cash for use of federal land. In his testimony before the House Natural Resources Committee, Salazar said his department will phase out the program and begin "an orderly transition over time to a more transparent and accountable royalty collection program."
How do you think this changes the landscape for Chairman Rahall's legislation? Do you agree with this termination or not? Why do you think Salazar decided to terminate it and what type of program do you propose he replace it with? In his testimony this morning, the secretary didn't offer more details of its replacement other than that it will be "more transparent."