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What’s that roaring sound I hear? Why it’s a gusher – a multi-billion dollar blow-out in our public treasury caused by the oil industry cheating on the royalty payments they owe on crude they pump from our public lands and waters.
It’s a little-known fact that the U.S. remains the world’s third largest oil producer – and one-third of this petroleum is pumped from federal property. By law, the oil giants must pay royalties on the nationally-owned crude they take, just as they must pay private landowners for oil they take from their property. But, thanks largely to the industry’s coziness with the oil-soaked Bush regime, the corporations are cheating on paying billions in royalties, even as they are reaping record levels of windfall profits.
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A report by Bush’s own interior department finds that since George has been in office, he has cut the number of auditors in charge of monitoring these payments by nearly 16 percent. In fact, only 20 percent of oil companies’ royalty reports are even being examined – so, basically, the Bushites are relying on the corporations to tell the government what they owe.
Even though this damning report was finished in 2005, Bush appointees kept it from being released until last November – after the elections. But, not to worry say the Bushites, for they’ve appointed an “independent” advisory panel to review complaints about the missing royalty payments. Who heads this “watchdog” panel? Bush appointed David Deal, who for nearly 30 years was the top lawyer for the American Petroleum Institute, which is the industry’s chief lobbying group in Washington.
This is Jim Hightower saying… Meanwhile, recognizing Big Oil’s bad image, the lobbying group says it “will spend what’s necessary” to spiff up the image. To do the job, they’ve hired the same PR firm that developed the “Got Milk?” campaign. Maybe the theme could be, “Got Royalties?”
“Report Says Oil Royalties Go Unpaid,” The New York Times, December 7, 2006.
“Study: U. S. overpays on drilling incentives,” Austin American Statesman, December 22, 2006.
“Oil Cheats,” www.tompaine.com, December 18, 2006.
“Studies say incentives on oil barely help U.S.” The New York Times, December 22, 2006.