The Senate did a favor for oil companies yesterday, voting to prevent the Clinton administration from charging royalties based on market rates for oil and gas pumped from federal lands. By the Interior Department’s estimation, the companies are currently underpaying the government by as much as $68 million a year. The vote came as the Senate passed a spending bill for Interior. The bill would also block the feds from limiting the size of mining waste dumps on federal land. In a bit of good news, the bill contains $7 million to be used to remove the Elwha Dam on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, a move enviros have been calling for. Pres. Clinton has threatened to veto the bill.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.