1/ This thread traces the origin of a new Trump Admin policy that makes it easier for oil & gas companies to dodge royalty payments to taxpayers when drilling offshore.

Turns out: the changes were cooked up by something called the Royalty Policy Committee.

3/ Meanwhile, @BOEM is preparing to offer, at upcoming auctions, leases that grant the right to extract a certain amount of royalty-free oil & gas. Reminder: @USGAO has already found that @Interior "systematically undervalues" offshore resources https://www.gao.gov/assets/710/701683.pdf
4/ Now, let’s flash back to March 29, 2017, when Sec. Zinke created something called the Royalty Policy Committee to “ensure the public receives the full value of the natural resources produced from Federal lands.”

Trouble: the committee was stacked with oil and gas reps.
5/ Randall Luthi, head of @oceanindustries - the oil and gas industry trade association for offshore drilling - was made co-director of the subcommittee responsible for making recommendations on royalties.
6/ Luthi, in turn, handed responsibility for making offshore royalty recommendations to an “offshore work group,” led by a @Shell official, Kevin Simpson. The workgroup was assured that the minutes and documents of its meetings would not be made public
7/ On 2/2/18, Luthi’s subcommittee approved the rec. from Simpson’s group that @Interior should “Establish a clearer, more workable process for varying royalty rate for declining or particularly costly fields.” Read: allow companies to more easily escape royalty obligations.
8/ On February 28, 2018, Patrick Noah of @conocophillips presented the following recommendation to the full Royalty Policy Committee. It was unanimously approved and sent to Secretary Zinke in March.
10/ IMPORTANT: On 9/13/18 Director Scott Angelle confirms to the RPC that @BSEEgov is moving forward with the committee’s offshore royalty breaks recommendation.
11/ April, 2019: Under fire in the courts and from the public, @Interior disbands the Royalty Policy Committee
12/ 8/13/2019: Judge Molloy of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana finds that the Royalty Policy Committee violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act and **** prohibits the Interior Department from using or relying on ANY of the RPC’s recommendations ****
So here we are: A lousy deal for U.S. taxpayers was cooked up by an industry-stacked committee that has been found to be illegal, and @Interior has been ordered that it cannot legally implement its recommendations. Seems this week’s saga is only beginning. But end of thread.
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