A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Interior Agencies to Conduct Royalty Review Study to Ensure Federal Leasing Policies Provide Fair Return on Public Oil and Gas Resources
WASHINGTON, DC – As part of Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar's efforts to ensure that American taxpayers receive a fair return from energy resources developed on public lands and on the Outer Continental Shelf, the Interior Department's energy agencies will review oil and natural gas fiscal systems in other countries and compare them with those used by the U.S. Government for federally-owned offshore and onshore lands.
Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will jointly contract for the competitive “Comparative Assessment of the Federal Oil and Gas Fiscal System” study in a cooperative interagency agreement. The results of this study will enable the Department to ensure that its leasing policies are providing the public a fair return on federally-owned oil and gas resources, while balancing other objectives, including production and environmental stewardship.
“MMS and BLM are undertaking this study in response to a 2008 Government Accountability Office report that suggested the return from federal oil and gas leases is lower than what other resource owners worldwide are receiving,” said MMS Director Liz Birnbaum. “We are assessing the federal oil and gas fiscal systems because the Department does not routinely monitor fiscal systems in other countries. We need to consider international comparisons in selecting fiscal parameters for our leases.”
"The Administration is committed to ensuring that taxpayers receive a fair return from mineral production on their lands," said BLM Director Bob Abbey. "This study will provide some common-sense grounds for comparison as we evaluate our royalty rates and our oil and gas fiscal policies in the context of global markets.”
The purpose of the study is to inform decisions about federal lease terms, such as a royalty, by consistently comparing the federal oil and gas fiscal systems with those of other countries. The study will explain the methods and appropriate uses of international comparisons, collect data and construct consistent comparisons, and apply that information to current issues about federal lease terms. Comparison of the U.S. government return with that of other countries may reveal the potential for greater revenues to the federal government.
The study's final report is expected to be completed nine months after the contract is awarded.