Broadband-Infrastructure Bill Centers Affordability and Equity

March 2021 WASHINGTON – Rep. James Clyburn (D–South Carolina) reintroduced the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act (AAIA). He first unveiled the legislation last June and the House of Representatives passed it in July as part of the Moving Forward Act.

The AAIA is expected to move in tandem with broader infrastructure proposals emanating from the House and the Biden administration. The lead sponsor of the Senate companion bill is Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D–Minnesota).

The AAIA is  the product of a task force Rep. Clyburn organized, working on broadband proposals in coordination with the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate counterparts. The effort was spurred by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s prioritization of broadband access and equity as a centerpiece of House Democrats’ infrastructure proposals.

Free Press Action Vice President of Policy and General Counsel Matt Wood made the following statement:

“The AAIA passed the House last year in much the same form. This pivotal legislation would have become law then if last year’s Senate majority were serious about affordable and universal internet access.

“This landmark broadband package is just as necessary as ever. It builds on the passage of the Emergency Broadband Benefit in the December stimulus bill and the emergency-connectivity fund for remote learning included in the American Rescue Plan passed just this week. The AAIA supplements and extends the funding for both of those vital programs.

“We’ve learned a lot over the past year, and the pandemic has ended the debate about the value of internet access. We know that broadband is an essential utility during times of national emergency and all other times too — a service that federal and local governments have an obligation to help provide to those who can’t afford the cost of getting connected.  

“The bill’s affordability measures are crucial, even though the bulk of the spending in an infrastructure bill naturally goes to constructing new networks. The majority of people disconnected today are offline not because they can’t find broadband in their neighborhoods but because they can’t afford the cost. This affordability gap disproportionately impacts communities of color facing systemic discrimination and economic injustice.

“Beyond its innovative ideas for funding new networks, the AAIA addresses the fact that infrastructure does little good when people don’t have choices about what to buy, information about what it truly costs them and the ability to pay that price.

The legislation also requires the FCC to collect pricing data so we can finally assess what people really pay for broadband, and understand when and where they’re priced out of this essential service. It mandates improved transparency and clarity in how service providers communicate those terms of service to their customers. And it includes a host of important investments in digital equity and inclusion while also removing legislative obstacles faced by communities seeking to build and operate their own municipal and cooperative broadband networks.

“These kinds of smart public investments in broadband affordability and choice will ensure that the initial down payment on closing the digital divide in recent COVID relief bills is supported by enough funding and forward thinking to finish the job.”


Truth-out, March 2021 excerpt, on Fossil Fuel Tax Breaks

Katie Porter, a second-term congresswoman who has developed a reputation for her incisive grilling of corporate executives and government officials, swiftly undercut Murphy’s narrative, explaining: “You do benefit from special rules. There’s a special tax rule for intangible drilling costs that does not apply to other kinds of expenses that businesses have.”

You get to deduct 70% of your costs immediately, and other businesses have to amortize their expenses over their entire profit stream,” Porter added. “So please don’t patronize me by telling me that the oil and gas industry doesn’t have any special tax provisions. Because if you would like that to be the rule, I would be happy to have Congress deliver.”

Environmentalist Bill McKibben, co-founder of, was among those who applauded Porter’s debunking of the fossil fuel executive’s false claim.

“The wonderful Rep. Katie Porter provides a signal moment in congressional history,” McKibben tweeted. “And it’s a sign of the weakening position of the oil industry — no deference to these liars any longer.”

Porter is the lead sponsor of Ending Taxpayer Welfare for Oil and Gas Companies Act, legislation introduced last week that would — according to a summary from the California congresswoman’s office — “raise royalties, rental rates, inspection fees, and penalties on oil and gas companies that extract resources from public lands.”

Public lands are a collective national treasure that belong to the American people — polluters that want to extract energy on these lands owe taxpayers a fair price,” Porter said in a statement. “We haven’t raised the rental rate for mining on public lands since I was in junior high, and we’ve been charging oil and gas companies the same royalty rate for over 100 years. My Ending Taxpayer Welfare for Oil and Gas Companies Act would protect taxpayers and give these prices a decades-overdue update.”

Following Tuesday’s hearing, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) welcomed Porter to sign on to his bill with Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.) calling for the elimination of nearly a dozen tax provisions that “unfairly benefit oil and gas companies.”

“Count me in!” Porter responded.


Watch the exchange:


Rep. Porter Introduces Bill to Raise Fees on Polluters Extracting from Public Lands

Congresswoman’s legislation would recover billions of taxpayer dollars by raising rates that haven’t been updated in decades

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterPrint this PageShare by EmailWashington, March 2, 2021Tags:Energy and the Environment

Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45), chair of the Natural Resources Oversight Subcommittee, today introduced legislation to protect public lands and recover taxpayer dollars. The Ending Taxpayer Welfare for Oil and Gas Companies Act, co-led by full Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (AZ-3) and Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), would raise royalties, rental rates, inspection fees, and penalties on oil and gas companies that extract resources from public lands.

“Public lands are a collective national treasure that belong to the American people—polluters that want to extract energy on these lands owe taxpayers a fair price,” Congresswoman Porter said. “We haven’t raised the rental rate for mining on public lands since I was in junior high, and we’ve been charging oil and gas companies the same royalty rate for over 100 years. My Ending Taxpayer Welfare for Oil and Gas Companies Act would protect taxpayers and give these prices a decades-overdue update.”

“Fossil fuel corporations have exploited public resources and paid us pennies for decades now, and this bill is the right way to restore some balance to our economy,” Chairman Grijalva said. “The American people are tired of propping up a failed business model that relies on subsidizing companies to pollute our air, dirty our water and destroy our climate. Rep. Porter is one of the greatest consumer champions we have in Congress. With her helping to lead the way, the Natural Resources Committee and the Democratic majority are going to end corporate giveaway culture and return economic power to the American people where it belongs.”

Since 1920, oil and gas companies have paid the same 12.5 percent royalty rate for extracting minerals on public lands, which is considerably lower than rates charged by states. Neither the minimum bid nor the rental rate on oil and gas leases have been updated since 1987, which has cost taxpayers millions of dollars. 

Porter’s Ending Taxpayer Welfare for Oil and Gas Companies would make the following updates to what we charge polluters to extract from public lands:

  • Onshore royalty rates raised from 12.5 percent to 18.75 percent;
  • Onshore oil and gas minimum bid raised from $2 to $5 and indexed to inflation; and
  • Per-acre onshore rental rates raised from their current values of $1.50 for the first 5 years and $2 for the second five years to $3 for the first 5 years and $5 for the second 5 years.

The legislation would also require natural gas companies to pay for all methane they take out of the ground, including gas burned for fuel on-site, and wasted through leaks, venting, and flaring.

The legislation is endorsed by Project on Government Oversight, the Wilderness Society, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nevada Wildlife Federation, Friends of the Earth, Western Organization of Resource Councils, Rocky Mountain Wild, Grand Canyon Trust, Clean Water Action, Sierra Club, Earthworks, Dakota Resource Council, and National Parks Conservation Association.

Congresswoman Porter has been a consistent advocate for environmental protection. A member of the Natural Resources Committee, she was recently elected to serve as Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Reform. She’s introduced legislation to give consumers more information how electricity is delivered to homes and businesses and to install electric vehicle charging stations along our nation’s highways. In her first term, Porter joined colleagues to pass the Climate Action Now Act, which included her amendment to recognize the important role of entrepreneurs and universities in establishing the U.S. as a global leader on clean technology.

More information on the Ending Taxpayer Welfare for Oil and Gas Companies is available HERE.

Casten, Blumenauer Introduce Bill to End Taxpayer Subsidies to Oil and Gas Companies ​for Climate Change-Causing Fossil Fuels

September 29, 2020 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Sean Casten (IL-06) and Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) introduced the End Oil and Gas Tax Subsidies Act of 2020, which would remove unfair fossil fuel tax breaks. Specifically, the legislation would eliminate 11 provisions in the tax code that unfairly benefit oil and gas companies.

Casten said, “The climate crisis is the greatest challenge of our lifetimes. We’ve seen fires rage across the West and hurricanes batter the Gulf Coast, all just in the past few months. Ending fossil fuel subsidies is an important step to take in combating climate change. It’s also an important step in increasing the competitiveness of United States energy markets and this bill manages to accomplish both while saving billions of taxpayer dollars every year.”

“Over a million acres burned in Oregon due to unprecedented wildfires this year. It’s unconscionable that we continue to spend billions in tax subsidies on the very industry which has done so much to help create the climate emergency,” said Blumenauer, a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee. “Rather than lining the pockets of large oil and gas companies and incentivizing the continued extraction of fossil fuels, we must end these unnecessary subsidies and instead invest in clean energy technologies and jobs that will put Americans to work and fight the climate crisis.”

The United States emitted more than 6.5 billion tons of greenhouse gases in 2018, with the vast majority of emissions coming from the combustion of fossil fuels. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has estimated that fossil fuels receive nearly $650 billion per year in direct and indirect subsidies in the United States. The bill increases the competitiveness of the energy industry while ensuring the United States is no longer subsidizing carbon emissions at the expense of clean energy.

A copy of the legislation is available here.

Casten, a member of the Select Report on the Climate Crisis, recently released the Committee’s Report which highlighted the need to eliminate the market-distorting subsidies received by the fossil fuel industry.

Rep. Porter Introduces Bill to Raise Fees on Polluters Extracting from Public Lands
March 2, 2021 | Posted in Press ReleasesI’ll Hold Polluters AccountableFebruary 22, 2021 | Posted in NewslettersRep. Porter to Chair House Natural Resources Subcommittee on OversightFebruary 18, 2021 | Posted in Press ReleasesRep. Porter Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Better Protect Against Natural DisastersOctober 9, 2020 | Posted in Press Releases