Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet welcomed the announcement today by the Office of Management and Budget that the U.S. Department of the Interior would restore mineral leasing revenues in fiscal year 2013 to Colorado communities that depend on those funds to help run local governments and schools and provide other critical community services. The announcement follows Udall and Bennet's efforts to urged the White House to release the royalties.
As part of the automatic budget cuts commonly referred to as "sequestration," the Interior Department cut more than $109 million in mineral royalties to states, including $8.4 million for Colorado. Today's decision means that states will receive the royalties they were shorted from FY 2013 at the end of the fiscal year.
"Colorado's oil and gas industry creates jobs throughout the state and is a critical part of our nation's balanced energy portfolio," Udall said. "I am pleased the U.S. Department of the Interior heeded my calls to restore these funds, which communities rely upon to pay for the direct and indirect effects of energy extraction. This is a win for cities and counties from the Western Slope to the Eastern Plains."
"This is the right decision. Colorado communities are legally entitled to these revenues," Bennet said. "Our state relies on these resources to help provide crucial services like education and safe roads to our residents. The Interior Department's decision to restore these resources gives Coloradans a little more certainty as we continue to look for a long term solution to this issue and a sensible approach to reduce the federal budget deficit."
Earlier this year, Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Bennet urged the administration to release the mineral royalties to help communities address the effects of energy and mineral production in addition to providing other crucial services. In a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell, Udall, Bennet and a bipartisan coalition of senators called on the administration to follow the precedent set by the FY 1986 sequester, which directed revenues sequestered in revolving trust and special fund accounts to be made available in subsequent fiscal years.