U.S. government fails to take total advantage of drilling, report says

While the country has enjoyed an oil and natural gas boom thanks to new technologies, the Interior Department has failed to keep up and raise royalty rates to maximize revenue on public lands, according to government auditors.

That's especially a problem for onshore drilling, where "Interior officials are currently unable to make timely adjustments to royalty rates," a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office said.

The Bureau of Land Management, for example, didn't go through with plans last year to bump royalty rates on public lands to 18.75% from 12.5%, the report said.

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Failure to take advantage of America's energy boom costs the government millions in potential revenue. The auditors noted that the U.S. Treasury reaped $9.7 billion last year from 700 million acres of public land and 1.7 billion acres of lands offshore -- the biggest nontax source of money for the government.

Raising royalty rates to previously planned levels could boost revenue by $1.25 billion over the next decade, the report said.


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