Former VP Joe Biden backs oil firms’ £2.1bn fee hike

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption George W Bush raised these fees, but the Obama administration cut them in 2016

The previous US administration of former Vice President Joe Biden has called for the US government to boost its royalties from offshore drilling.

Some oil companies say the move will result in higher fuel prices, as fewer dollars are going back to government coffers.

The administration is often accused of not taking climate change seriously.

The group includes the Departments of the Interior, Commerce, Agriculture, Energy, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs.

The groups are calling for an increase in offshore drilling fees, saying the industry is currently paying too little tax.

If approved, the fee hike would raise $2.7bn (£2.1bn) over the next decade – and could “create thousands of jobs”, they write in a new report.

The fee increase, to be approved by the end of 2018, could be “pro-growth” and could pay for “job creation, expanded renewable energy, and hurricane recovery”, it adds.

None of the groups mention climate change, reports the Washington Post.

The fees are to be paid on every barrel of oil produced from federal lands.

Companies currently pay between 0% and $10 per barrel, depending on how much oil they produce.

Image copyright Joe Biden Image caption The group of former government officials includes Colin Powell, Colin Powell and John Norris

George W Bush raised the fees, but the Obama administration cut them in 2016.

The decline in oil prices in recent years has helped reduce the companies’ costs, making their new taxes well worth it, the groups say.

Whether or not the fees will raise any new revenue remains unclear, though.

Image copyright George W Bush Image caption When the fees were raised to between 0% and $10 per barrel, the US energy industry opposed the new tax

Philip Ellender, vice president of the American Petroleum Institute, told the Post they were “extremely disappointed” by the changes.

The group says the fees could threaten more than 300,000 jobs – and would drive prices up.

President Donald Trump has a long history of pushing for increased drilling, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico.

Last year he lifted a decades-old ban on offshore drilling in the Arctic, which opponents said was an infringement on US sovereignty.

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