The legislation to cut US greenhouse gas emissions suffered a delay in the Senate last Thursday. According to reports, the bill will be held up for at least a month, but in fact could be left in limbo for much longer. An article written by Richard Cowan of Reuters last week says the Senate delay is a result of continued bickering over how to reduce industrial emissions of carbon dioxide without putting US businesses and consumers at a disadvantage. Another reason for the delay, Cowan said, is Congress’ preoccupation with healthcare reform, Obama’s top legislative priority. Congress seems rather optimistic that a cap and trade decision will be made before the end of the year, but it appears that for the present, the environment is taking a back seat to health care. Not to be done out of revenues, the government is looking to collect fees that were not paid by oil and gas producers in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) to the Department of the Interior (DOI). Those fees amount to as much as US $10 billion. A Dow Jones report says the US Department of Justice appealed to the Supreme Court on Monday to reject a lower-court ruling that blocked the DOI from collecting as much as $10 billion in oil fees. Dow Jones Editor Ian Talley explained that in January, a federal appellate court sided with Anadarko Petroleum Corp. in what Talley called “a controversial and precedent-setting case,” finding that the government did not have the right to collect royalties from eight oil and natural gas production leases in the GoM. This particular ruling, Talley said, involved only Kerr McGee leases now owned by Anadarko, but the ruling affects other operating companies that signed GoM leases between 1996 and 2000. “The leases were signed under the Outer Continental Shelf Deep Water Royalty Relief Act of 1995 - designed to encourage expensive offshore oil and gas development. Anadarko argues the law specifically prevented the collection of royalties until a minimum volume of oil and gas production had been met, while the DOI says the law gave it discretion to collect royalties at a price threshold,” the article says. This case appears to be one of several oil-royalty cases that Democratic lawmakers are making hay with as they seek to move the country away from producing oil and gas and toward renewable energy. The article cites Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as saying he will restructure the royalty program, raising rates for oil companies and revenues for the federal government. So although the cap and trade bill is experiencing a hiatus, the government still has oil and gas companies in its sights. And the financial repercussions will be significant when it pulls the trigger.