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Interior comes under fire for royalty giveaway

Interior Department officials faced harsh criticism from Republicans and Democrats at a House subcommittee hearing on Thursday.

Members of the House Committee on Government Reform said Americans will lose out on billions in oil and gas royalties. Hundreds of leases signed by energy companies allow them to keep money that would otherwise go to the federal government.

Interior officials said they are close to agreements with 2 of the 56 companies with the leases at issue and another 8 are in negotiations. The other companies may not want new deals.

Interior deputy secretary Lynn Scarlett rejected Inspector General Earl Devaney's characterization of an "anything goes" atmosphere at the department. She said he made "vague allegations" but said ethics violations are taken seriously.

"Simply stated, short of crime, anything goes at the highest levels of the Department of the Interior," Devaney said when he testified on Wednesday.

Get the Story:
Interior Near 2 New Pacts in Oil Leases (The New York Times 9/15)

Relevant Documents::
Devaney Testimony | Hearing Information

Relevant Links:
House Committee on Government Reform -

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