Under the Energy Bill signed into law last summer, oil companies were given new subsidies in the form of reduced royalty fees for the oil and gas they extract from Federal lands, including off-shore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. What the Wyden amendment would do would be to force energy companies to pay royalties to the government on all oil and gas they produce on federal leases in the Gulf of Mexico, if the price of crude oil is above $55 a barrel.
That's federal leases, the public resource, and billions and billions of dollars of taxpayer money going to oil and energy companies. The Department of Interior provides royalty relief to oil companies as incentive to prevent disruptions because of hurricanes or other natural disasters. But that "incentive" price is $55 a barrel, and oil is now selling for more than $70 a barrel--seems like incentive enough.The subsides for oil and gas companies add up to as much as $35 billion.