SPONSORED:

Lawmakers ask Trump administration to help Gulf oil and gas producers

Lawmakers ask Trump administration to help Gulf oil and gas producers

A group of 14 lawmakers is asking the Trump administration to help out the offshore energy industry amid a decline in oil prices linked to international disputes and the coronavirus pandemic.

The 13 Republicans and one Democrat sent a letter on Friday to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt asking him to reduce or waive royalties for oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico. 

“The Department of the Interior has existing authority to temporarily reduce or eliminate royalties set forth in the leases in the Western and Central Planning Areas of the Gulf of Mexico and other lease areas,” the lawmakers wrote. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“We urge you to examine the viability of a temporary reduction in royalties as domestic energy producers weather this combination of an [Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries]-driven price war and an epidemic that is driving millions of people around the world into quarantines of one kind or another,” they added. “Such an action in the short term will help mitigate a price war that is sinking prices and decreasing production.”

Their letter follows a separate action by the Trump administration that boosts the oil industry at large. 

On Thursday, the Energy Department announced that it will buy 30 million barrels of oil from producers to be stored in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

The Friday letter was signed by Reps. Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawGOP Rep. Crenshaw to take leave due to eye surgery Koch network urges lawmakers to back 'personal option' health plan A nuclear frontier MORE (R-Texas), Randy K. Weber (R-Texas), Clay HigginsGlen (Clay) Clay HigginsREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results GOP lawmaker, CNN anchor battle over lack of evidence for fraud claims Here are the Republicans planning to challenge the Electoral College results MORE (R-La.), Mike JohnsonJames (Mike) Michael JohnsonCompanies sidestep self-imposed bans on GOP donations House GOP holdouts muddle Trump vaccine message Cassidy defends vote to proceed with Trump trial after GOP backlash MORE (R-La.), Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Calls mount to start transition as Biden readies Cabinet picks Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it MORE (R-Texas), Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyHillicon Valley: Tech companies duke it out at Senate hearing | Seven House Republicans vow to reject donations from Big Tech Seven House Republicans vow to reject donations from Big Tech US Chamber enters hostile takeover by crony capitalists MORE (R-Texas), Bruce WestermanBruce Eugene WestermanOvernight Energy: Biden reportedly will pledge to halve US emissions by 2030 | Ocasio-Cortez, Markey reintroduce Green New Deal resolution Democrats battle over best path for Puerto Rico House GOP's planned environmental bills drop Democratic priorities MORE (R-Ark.), Ralph Abraham (R-La.), Kevin HernKevin HernREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Top GOP lawmakers call for Swalwell to be removed from Intelligence Committee Lawmakers call for small business aid at all levels of government MORE (R-Okla.), Jeff DuncanJeffrey (Jeff) Darren DuncanGOP lawmaker demands review over FBI saying baseball shooting was 'suicide by cop' Georgia county says removal of All-Star Game will cost tourism 0M GOP senators push to end MLB antitrust status MORE (R-S.C.), Brian Babin (R-Texas), Michael C. Burgess (R-Texas), Michael Cloud (R-Texas) and Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas). 

“This call for royalty relief on offshore oil and gas will help ensure that the cost of production isn’t more than the price of the commodities. This is especially important for America’s smaller producers – many of whom are based in Texas – who feel the burden of these royalties the most,” Crenshaw's office said a statement about the letter. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The idea of reducing royalties for fossil fuels leases, however, came under fire from some Democrats even before the lawmakers sent their letter. 

Last week, Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money: Yellen touts 'whole-of-economy' plan to fight climate change | Senate GOP adopts symbolic earmark ban, digs in on debt limit GOP lawmaker demands review over FBI saying baseball shooting was 'suicide by cop' House Dems to unveil drug pricing measure ahead of Biden package MORE (I-Vt.), Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyA proposal to tackle congressional inside trading: Invest in the US Democratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents Lobbying world MORE (D-Ore.) and Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyHillicon Valley: Tech companies duke it out at Senate hearing | Seven House Republicans vow to reject donations from Big Tech Markey, Castor urge FTC to investigate Google Play Store Kerry: China described climate change as 'crisis' for the first time MORE (D-Mass.) introduced legislation aiming to prevent the administration from reducing royalty rates for coal, oil or gas recovery. 

“We shouldn’t be producing these dirty fossil fuels at all, much less providing billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to the industry every year,” Sanders said in a statement at the time. 

The three senators also wrote a letter to President TrumpDonald TrumpUS gives examples of possible sanctions relief to Iran GOP lawmaker demands review over FBI saying baseball shooting was 'suicide by cop' House passes bill aimed at stopping future Trump travel ban MORE last week, saying that giving federal assistance to oil companies “would be a wasteful misuse of government resources that would exacerbate the climate crisis.”

Industry, however, praised the action. 

"Royalty relief will help preserve American energy competitiveness, while ensuring a fair return to taxpayers," National Ocean Industries Association President Erik Milito said in a statement.