Obama: Companies should face higher charges for drilling on federal land

President Barack Obama gestures while giving State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. listen at rear. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Barack Obama gestures while giving State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Barack Obama signaled in his final State of the Union address Tuesday night that fossil fuel companies could face higher charges when mining on federal lands.

Obama said that he’s going to push to change the way the federal government manages its oil and coal resources to better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and the planet.

Environmental groups have been telling the Bureau of Land Management during public hearings in recent months that the current royalty rates don’t provide taxpayers with a fair return on the country’s natural resources and encourage global warming.

The government charges a rate of 12.5 percent. The rate for offshore gas and oil is 50 percent higher.

Leaders of the hard-hit coal industry say any increase will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher utility rates.

Read more about last night’s State of the Union address at HoustonChronicle.com:

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