February 14, 2006- Statement of Introduction "Royalty Relief for American Consumers Act of 2006"

"Mr. Speaker, the American people expect their leaders to articulate a vision and a comprehensive strategy for America’s energy future.  They expect us to be focused on reducing the high energy costs to American consumers and completely eliminating our dependence on expensive and volatile Middle Eastern oil. In contrast, several weeks ago the New York Times released an investigative report revealing that payments made by energy companies are not keeping up with the skyrocketing cost of energy. Today, the Times revealed that big oil companies stand to receive future royalty giveaways from the Bush Administration of nearly $7 billion. This royalty relief for Exxon Mobil, BP, and Chevron Texaco comes at a time when consumers are paying record high energy prices.

It is time to start providing royalty relief to the American public, and to end it for multinational energy companies that just made more profit in one year than any industry in modern history.

Today, Representatives Maloney, Miller, Waxman, Emanuel, Inslee, Pallone, Grijalva and I are introducing the “Royalty Relief for American Consumers Act of 2006” to ensure that the taxpayers will receive the billions of dollars in royalty payments they are owed by the big oil companies as payment to drill on public land. Our legislation would prohibit royalty relief on any future oil and gas leases, call for a renegotiation of current leases, and prohibit the purchasing of new leases by those companies that refuse to renegotiate.

Oil companies pay a fraction of the value of the oil and gas produced on federal land as a royalty to the federal government. However, on Valentine’s Day, we have learned of yet another sweetheart deal that the Administration is giving to big oil. Across the country, Americans can’t afford roses and chocolates because they are getting squeezed at the pump for every last nickel and dime they have – meanwhile the Bush Administration is giving its sweethearts in the oil industry $7 billion dollars that rightfully belongs to America’s taxpayers.

In the 1990’s and again last year, the Republican Congress voted to suspend royalty payments by oil and gas companies for oil and gas produced in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

Now, the President’s own budget directs the Department of Interior to allow companies to pump nearly $65 billion worth of oil and natural gas without paying royalties. Apparently the Administration doesn’t feel that the record profits being reported by Exxon Mobil and the other big oil companies are high enough. The Bush policy of subsidizing wealthy oil companies has proven to be wildly effective in boosting oil company profits, but it continues to harm American consumers. It is time for this Administration to stop letting oil companies make the greatest profits we have ever seen in the history of the world while not paying their bills to the American public.

The “Royalty Relief for American Consumers Act of 2006” will ensure that the American taxpayers receive the money they are owed by the oil companies in the future.  Our legislation will help reverse the Bush Administration’s policy to “Leave No Oil Company Behind” and instead provide relief to the American consumers who are currently footing the bill."