Gas Companies Steal Public Resources

January 29, 2006

Recently published government data reveals that the oil and gas companies have been cheating the government of hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties.

Gas producers are required to pay the government between 12% to 16% of the sale price of natural gas produced on public lands. But by systematically under-reporting the actual price of the gas, companies cheated the government out of at least $700 million in 2005. In fact, since 2001, while gas prices have doubled, the gas producers have been paying the government less in royalties. Over the years, big oil and gas producers have repeatedly been prosecuted for similar underpayment of royalties. The increasing fraud has been linked to the fact that the Bush administration has drastically and deliberately cut back on government auditing and check-up of federal gas leases.

The root problem goes deeper than cooking the books and stealing. The fundamental question is: why are private companies allowed to exploit the natural resources of our country which belong to all the people?

While millions of working class families literally cannot afford to heat their homes, the capitalists at Exxon-Mobil, ChevronTexaco, etc. are grabbing billions in profits by expropriating publicly-owned resources. Last year alone, the gas and oil capitalists took nearly $60 billion in natural gas from public lands. Who gave these moneybags our gas?

Instead of letting the capitalist exploiters rob our national patrimony, the people must demand control over the gas, oil and other resources. These resources must be used to meet the needs of the people, not enrich a few.