The Interior Department is repealing an Obama administration rule for assessing fees on coal, oil and natural gas extracted on federal lands after determining that the regulation was full of defects.
"Repealing the Valuation Rule restores our economic freedom by ensuring our energy independence," Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Monday. "The increased costs associated with the Valuation Rule had the potential to decrease exploration and production on federal lands, both onshore and offshore, making us rely more and more on foreign imports of oil and gas."
The agency's Office of Natural Resources Revenue published its decision in Monday's Federal Register. The repeal will be effective Sept. 6.
"In light of the defects that we discovered in the rule and after carefully considering all of the comments we received, we have decided to repeal the 2017 Valuation Rule in its entirety," the notice read.
Zinke is reinstating an advisory panel to create a new valuation rule, the agency said. He said Interior remains committed to collecting the fees, noting that public lands are assets belonging to taxpayers and American Indian tribes.
The Valuation Rule created under former Interior Secretary Sally Jewel changed how energy companies value sales of oil, gas and coal taken from federal and tribal land. It was created to close a loophole that the Obama administration said let companies to miscalculate royalty payments when mining on public land.The revenue office defended its decision by asserting that "the rule would compromise [the office's] mission to collect and account for mineral royalty revenues; could affect royalty distributions to state and tribal partners; and would impose a costly and unnecessary burden on federal and Indian lessees," the repeal notice read.
The revenue office defended its decision by asserting that "the rule would compromise [the office's] mission to collect and account for mineral royalty revenues; could affect royalty distributions to state and tribal partners; and would impose a costly and unnecessary burden on federal and Indian lessees," the repeal notice read.
The decision to repeal the regulation comports with President Trump's March 28 executive order on promoting energy independence and economic growth. "The executive order directs federal agencies to review all existing regulations and other agency actions and, ultimately, to suspend, revise or rescind any such regulations or actions that unnecessarily burden the development of domestic energy resources beyond the degree necessary to protect the public interest or otherwise comply with the law," the office said.
"Based on our own internal review, as well as on the comments we received both before and during the process of promulgating this rule of repeal, we have concluded that certain provisions of the 2017 Valuation Rule would unnecessarily burden the development of federal oil and gas and federal and Indian coal beyond the degree necessary to protect the public interest or otherwise comply with the law," it said.
Top Republicans on Capitol Hill praised the decision. "This rescindment is another important step by the Trump administration to position Interior as a facilitator of responsible energy development," said Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House Natural Resource Committee with direct oversight of the Interior Department.
"I look forward to working with Secretary Zinke on [the revenue office's] policies, and many other areas, to spur more investment in federal and Indian lands, foster greater regulatory certainty and eliminate or address pre-existing policies that work against these goals," Bishop added.