Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, and Representative Liz Cheney, all R-Wyo., introduced legislation today that would allow states to collect their own federal mineral royalties, protecting money that is rightfully owed to the states. The bill would effectively eliminate a collection fee charged by the federal government, which amounts to around $40 million per year.
“Mineral royalties are supposed to be split 50-50, but by charging an unfair collection fee, the federal government is squeezing the states for more dollars to pad its own coffers,” Enzi said. “By empowering states to collect their own mineral revenue, they would no longer have to worry about the federal government snatching up mineral royalties that are rightfully theirs.”
“This legislation will finally give Wyoming the 50 percent share of federal mineral royalties that we are rightfully owed under the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA). For years, the federal government has been withholding 2 percent of mineral revenues that belong to western states,” Cheney said. “The introduction of this legislation today will make Wyoming whole again and ensure that Wyoming receives our share of the mineral royalties. These funds are crucial in providing funding to communities across Wyoming. I’m proud to have introduced this bill in the House and I look forward to continuing to work with Senators Enzi and Barrasso, who introduced the bill in the Senate, to ensure that Washington no longer withholds payments that belong to Wyoming.”
“States are in the best position to make sure that mineral revenues are properly paid and collected,” Barrasso said. “Allowing mineral producing states to collect royalties will make the process more efficient, cost effective and accountable.”
The Mineral Leasing Act provides that the continental states be paid 50 percent of the revenues resulting from the leasing of onshore mineral resources on federal public lands within their borders. These royalties are used by states to fund such necessary items as public school systems, community colleges, emergency response activities and basic infrastructure projects.
Currently, the federal government charges states a 2 percent fee, claiming it is necessary to cover collection and disbursement costs. This legislation would ensure that states can continue to receive their 50 percent share of mineral royalties by giving them the option to administer their own programs.
Enzi introduced the State Mineral Revenue Protection Act in the Senate and Cheney introduced identical legislation in the House. Cosponsors in the Senate include Barrasso and Senators Tom Udall, D-N.M., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. Original Cosponsor in the House is Representative Steve Pearce, R-N.M.