This week, U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01) took two important steps to stop the federal government's withholding of New Mexico's mineral revenue by cosponsoring legislation that would end the practice, and requesting that the Department of the Interior (DOI) return to states the royalties it has withheld.
Rep. Lujan Grisham cosponsored the bipartisan State Mineral Revenue Protection Act (H.R. 1972), which would bar the federal government from withholding mineral royalties owed to states. Under the Mineral Leasing Act, the federal government is required to pay each state 50 percent of the revenues from the leasing of mineral resources within its borders. The DOI has withheld each state's share of mineral royalties, citing sequestration-mandated budget cuts.
"New Mexico will lose $25 million in mineral royalties this fiscal year alone because of the Department of the Interior's decision," said Rep. Lujan Grisham. "That's money our state needs to fund our schools, hospitals and infrastructure. These royalties belong to New Mexico, and this legislation will ensure that they stay in New Mexico."
Rep. Lujan Grisham also joined a bipartisan group of 12 members of the House of Representatives and 10 Senators in a letter to Sylvia Burwell, Director of the Office of Management and Budget. The letter requests that the DOI return sequestered mineral revenue owed to the states.
In their letter, the lawmakers outline that when sequestration occurred in the mid-1980s, the law required that withheld mineral royalties had to be returned to the states. This same law applies today, and is why the lawmakers are requesting the mineral revenues owed by the Department of the Interior for FY 2013 be returned to the states.
"I continue to call on Congress to end sequestration's disastrous cuts," said Rep. Lujan Grisham. "But until that happens, I will keep fighting to protect New Mexico's businesses and families from the harmful effects of sequestration."