Without comment: Big Oil's Big Windfall: "According to a detailed account in Monday's Times by Edmund L. Andrews, oil companies stand to gain a minimum of $7 billion and as much as $28 billion over the next five years under an obscure provision in last year's giant energy bill that allows companies to avoid paying royalties on oil and gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico.
The provision received almost no Congressional debate, in part because Congress was lazy and in part because the provision was misleadingly advertised as cost-free. The giveaway also seemed a natural sequel to a measure passed in 1995 to provide royalty relief. But that measure came at a time when oil prices, and new investment in oil and gas exploration, had declined. It also included an important safety valve: in any year when oil prices exceeded a threshold, about $34 a barrel, companies would have to resume paying royalties."