Axios Pro Exclusive Content

Scoop: GOP's next Interior oversight threat

Jan 30, 2024
Photo illustration of oil spilling out of a barrel, oil pipelines and abstract shapes.

Photo illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

House Republicans are accusing the Interior Department of "deliberately" obstructing their investigation of federal leasing policies.

Why it matters: It's the next front in the Natural Resources Committee's oversight war on Interior, as Chair Bruce Westerman mulls subpoenas in some of its investigations.

Driving the news: In a new letter, seen exclusively by Axios, Republicans said the Office of Natural Resources Revenue hasn't provided a "substantive reply" to their December inquiry into how the agency calculates leasing royalties.

  • The missive, from Westerman and other committee Republicans, points to a 2019 GAO report that suggested ONRR take steps to more accurately collect oil and gas leasing royalties.
  • "Then, last year, the Committee received information regarding a potential lack of internal controls at ONRR," the lawmakers wrote.
  • They ask ONRR to turn over documents by Feb. 15 detailing its compliance goals and whether it's receiving "overpayments."

Of note: The lawmakers said the committee would use "every tool at its disposal to administer effective oversight" (that is, subpoenas).

  • "Your silence and lack of response to the Committee Letter suggest that ONRR is deliberately engaging in obstruction to frustrate the oversight power of Congress," they wrote.
Go deeper