Energy & Environment

Interior withdraws Trump rule that would’ve made public lands drilling cheaper

The Interior Department on Tuesday withdrew a Trump-era rule that was expected to make it cheaper for industry to drill on federally owned lands and in public waters. 

The announcement of the withdrawal, which will be published in the Federal Register this week, comes after the Biden administration had previously delayed the Trump rule from taking effect. 

The department argued in a statement on Tuesday that its move means that fossil fuel companies will pay their fair share to drill on public lands, estimating that it will prevent $64 million in lost payments each year. 

“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to ensuring that American taxpayers receive fair returns for the oil and natural gas produced on federal lands,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. 

“Today’s action will help advance our efforts to restore balance to our public lands and waters and ensure that state governments receive the tax revenue they are owed,” she added. 

The rule in question would have allowed companies to get additional cost deductions and use lower figures to calculate the value of the fuels they unearth. 

The rule was also expected to have benefits for coal. 

When the rule was put forward, the Trump administration argued that it rid the industry of unnecessary burdens. 

“This proposal provides regulatory certainty and clarity to States, Tribes and stakeholders, removing unnecessary and burdensome regulations for domestic energy production,” then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in a statement last year. 

The Biden administration argued that the rule needed to be withdrawn because of “defects,” including a flawed economic analysis and a lack of reasoned explanation for its changes. 

Some of the specific changes sought by the Trump administration were similar to those requested by the American Petroleum Institute industry group.

Updated at 12:19 p.m.


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