SALT LAKE CITY — Two Utah Republicans in Congress took the lead in a letter Wednesday urging the Interior Department to waive or reduce federal royalty payments on oil, gas and coal production on federal lands to help those industries survive the coronavirus pandemic.
Rep. John Curtis, along with Rep. Rob Bishop and 28 other Republicans, asked Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to strongly consider efforts to ensure those operations have the appropriate resources and certainty afforded other industries during the crisis.
“These essential industries are seeking to continue production rather than a bailout and should be given due consideration as such,” according to the letter. “There is no playbook for the situation we find ourselves in and we must utilize every existing authority to enable them to come out the other side of this hardship intact.”
Certain industries make royalty payments for the development of energy and natural resources on federal lands. The letter also makes explicit that relief should only come from the portion paid to the federal government, ensuring no impact to state revenues.
The suspension or reduction of royalty payments would allow a stronger fossil fuel industry to emerge, maintaining America’s energy dominance and national security, according to the letter.
Utah GOP Rep. Chris Stewart also signed the letter.