Senator Changes Bill to Reform Energy Policy

Bill seeks to permit more drilling on federal lands and give $3 tax credit to small well owners.

Published: 23-Feb-2001

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Senator Frank Murkowski of Alaska has dropped language from his planned broad energy bill that would have given big oil companies a break in paying federal royalties when crude and natural gas prices fall significantly.

Murkowski's legislation to overhaul the nation's energy policies, which will be introduced on Monday, had initially included a provision to reduce cash royalties that major energy firms pay on off-shore production when oil prices fall below $18 a barrel and natural gas prices drop below $2.30 per thousand cubic feet for 90 consecutive days.

To reduce opposition to the bill from environmental groups, who have called the proposed cut in royalties "corporate welfare," and to win more congressional support for his legislation, Murkowski has dropped the royalty reduction language altogether, an aide to the senator told Reuters.

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