"The Interior Department has dropped claims that the Chevron Corporation systematically underpaid the government for natural gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico, a decision that could allow energy companies to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties
"The reversal in the case, which involves Chevron’s accounting of natural gas sales to a company it partly owned, has renewed criticism that the Bush administration is reluctant to confront oil and gas companies and is lax in collecting royalties.
“The government is giving up without a fight,” said Richard T. Dorman, a lawyer representing private citizens suing Chevron over its federal royalty payments. “If this decision is left standing, it would result in the loss of tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of dollars in royalties owed by other companies.”
"In return for the right to drill on federal lands and in federal waters, energy companies are required to pay the government a share of their proceeds. Last year, businesses producing natural gas paid $5.15 billion in government royalties.
"While the Interior Department has sweetened incentives for exploration and pushed to open wilderness areas for drilling, it has also cut back on full-scale audits of companies intended to make sure they are paying their full share.
"Administration officials knew that dozens of companies had incorrectly claimed exemptions from royalties since 2003, but they waited until December 2005 to send letters demanding about $500 million in repayments."
This is fucked. This is so fucked.
This is OUR GULF. These are OUR ROYALTIES.
This administration has failed the people of Louisiana yet again. This case alone, if pursued vigorously, could rebuild our wetlands, as there are several other companies to be charged. The Bush administration is so deep in the pockets of the energy companies though, that this will never happen. Now, big oil won't even pay a tenth of their royalties.
I'm not advocating anything, but, you know, if the Democrats win the House, and the Speaker of the House is third in the line of succession, then maybe, just maybe...