Friday, December 15, 2006

Big Oil companies begin to face oversight and justice

Even before the 110th Congress, Big Oil companies are beginning to face justice and oversight regarding infractions in their payment of royalties to the US government, according to a recent blog entry by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO).

POGO's Beth Daley described major errors in the 1998-99 offshore leases signed by oil companies for their drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico, depriving the US Treasury of substantial royalties. Yesterday, the Department of the Interior, which oversees the royalties program, announced that it had entered payment agreements with 17% of the oil companies in question.

Representative Edward Markey (D - MA) also announced that the Interior Department's Inspector General had made a pair of criminal referrals related to the case, in spite of the Interior Department's attempt to keep quiet about this move.

Daley noted in her blog entry that this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the money owed to the American people by major oil companies. She offered some optimism, however, that with the Bush-era Department of the Interior having "to House Resources Committee Chair Nick Rahall" in the next Congress, meaningful oversight and progress on the royalties issue may be at hand.

Daley's full blog post can be found at POGO's website.


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