Wright pushes for return to even federal-state split of mineral lease revenue

State Rep. Jared Wright is calling on U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall to pressure the federal government to stop taking a 2 percent “administration fee” on royalty payments from federal mineral leases.

At least one of those senators, however, already has been asking for that.

Wright, a Fruita Republican,  said that prior to 2008, the federal government would split 50-50 with states the revenues it received in federal mineral lease, or FML, payments, which come from mining companies that lease minerals on federal lands.

That was changed to a 51-49 percent split to offset the cost the federal government incurs in collecting the payments.

“This inequitable apportionment of Federal Mineral Lease funds was set to sunset and return to a fair 50-50 split on January 1,” Wright said. “However, under the budget deal passed by Congress (last) week, the 51-49 split will now continue costing communities through the state of Colorado dollars that belong here at home, not in the pockets of federal government bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.”

He called on the senators to support H.R. 1972, the State Mineral Revenue Protection Act, introduced into Congress in May by Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.

Even though the measure has several GOP co-sponsors, including U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a Republican who represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, it has yet to be heard by the GOP-controlled House Natural Resources Committee.

An identical bill was introduced into the U.S. Senate in May, but like its House counterpart, that bill, S.951, has made no progress in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

And like the House version, the measure has bipartisan support, including from Udall, a Democrat.

Earlier this year, Udall and Bennet successfully got the federal government to release $110 million in FML royalties withheld to 12 states, including Colorado. Those payments initially were withheld on the grounds that the federal government was required to do so under the budget sequestration law.

About $5.7 million of that money came to Colorado.

Much of that money is used by local governments to offset the impact of mineral development in their areas.


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