Press Release

Industry-focused federal committee quietly disbands amid controversy

Oil well seen from just outside the entrance to Canyonlands National Park

Oil well outside Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Mason Cummings

New Analysis by The Wilderness Society shows that vast majority of committee’s recommendations financially benefited fossil fuel industry while shortchanging taxpayers

The Royalty Policy Committee, an industry-focused “federal committee’’ initially created to ensure the public receives the full value of the natural resources produced from federal lands, quietly disbanded on Sunday, April 21.

Since being re-chartered by former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in March 2017, the RPC has been under heavy scrutiny for the industry heavy hand played out at meetings, including swift passing of recommendations over the course of meetings that gifted fossil fuel interests with a hall pass to environmental reviews.

A new analysis by The Wilderness Society shows that 21 of the 29 recommendations (72%) the RPC made since being re-chartered in March 2017 would shortchange American taxpayers, cut the public out of decision making and/or sacrifice the environment.

Recently, a federal judge ruled against the Trump administration’s repeal of an Obama-era valuation rule that aimed to fairly value oil, gas and coal production on our public lands.

Back in 2017, Interior had rescinded the rule and essentially said they were going to let the RPC advise ONRR on current and emerging valuation issues that would help “lead to the development and promulgation of a new revised valuation rule that will address the various problems that have now been identified in the rule we are repealing.” But the judge last week rebuked this, saying predicted future actions cannot be used to support a decision already made.