US Department of the Interior Natural Resources Revenue Data

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Federal reforms

The federal government reforms laws and regulations by enacting new legislation and proposing new rules to implement the legislation. Reforms can stem from government oversight organizations’ recommendations, including from both DOI’s Office of Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office. Below are reforms following the Deep Water Horizon oil spill, recent findings from government oversight organizations, and proposed rules.

Reforms following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

In the aftermath of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the federal government overhauled the oversight of DOI’s leasing, regulation, and collection of revenue for oil and gas extraction on the Outer Continental Shelf. DOI’s post Deepwater Horizon reorganization separated and established independent oversight for offshore leasing (i.e., BOEM), offshore safety and environmental enforcement (i.e., BSEE), and the collection and accountability of the revenue generated from natural resource development on federal and Indian lands through the creation of the Office of Natural Resources Revenue (i.e., ONRR).

When the Secretary of the Interior announced the creation of ONRR in May 2010 and the elimination of the former Minerals Management Service in June 2010, the goal was to fundamentally restructure the government’s mineral leasing, regulatory, and revenue collection agencies. The Secretary wanted to:

  • Separate the three responsibilities of leasing, regulation, and revenue collection
  • Provide each office and bureau with the independence and resources necessary to fulfill their missions
  • Eliminate real and perceived conflicts associated with the previous organizations

While the federal government made regulatory reforms following the spill, Congress did not change any laws related to offshore fossil fuel management in response to the accident.

Office of Inspector General (OIG) reports

DOI’s OIG is responsible for the independent oversight and promotion of excellence, integrity, and accountability within the programs, operations, and management of DOI. OIG also identifies and prevents fraud, waste, and mismanagement within the agency. In recent years, OIG has published numerous reports related to DOI revenue from natural resource extraction, including:

Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports

The GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer funds, including those for natural resource management on federal and Indian lands. GAO publishes its reports on the GAO Summary Page. Some recent GAO findings related to natural resource extraction include:

New and proposed rules

Per the Administrative Procedures Act, agencies propose rules to implement federal laws. The public has an opportunity to comment on all proposed rules before an agency finalizes any regulations. Recently, DOI bureaus and offices issued these rules after public comment:

BLM also issued a proposed rule on wind and solar and competitive leasing (PDF) intended to go into effect after public comment.

For more details, search the Federal Registrar for DOI proposed rules.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act

In 2010, the U.S. enacted the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (PDF) (124 Stat. 1376) to improve transparency and accountability across the financial system. Section 1504 of the act requires extractive industries companies registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to separately disclose information about payments to governments around the world in an interactive data format.

Section 1504 mandates disclosure of “the type and total amount of (such) payments made for each project of the resource extraction issuer relating to the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals,” including “taxes, royalties, fees (including license fees), production entitlements, bonuses, and other material benefits, that the Commission, consistent with the guidelines of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (to the extent practicable), determines are part of the commonly recognized revenue stream for the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals.”

SEC is rewriting the rule to implement this law. SEC has stated that the revised rule will be proposed by the end of 2015. Section 5.2e of the EITI Standard states: “Reporting at project level is required, provided that it is consistent with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission rules and the forthcoming (now implemented) European Union requirements.” According to SEC scheduling, it will issue final implementation rules by June 2016.