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September 11, 2007 -

Senators Take On Federal Pick Pockets

Proposed Royalty fee unfairly takes $20 million a year from Wyoming

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso , both R-Wyo., will fight against a provision in the Interior Appropriations Bill of 2008 that would steal up to $20 million per year of Wyoming ’s mineral royalty money.

“It is unfortunate the appropriators think taking money away from states to spend it on bigger government or some other federal priority is the way to fix a problem,” said Enzi. “Not only is this a complex and burdensome way to siphon money from states, there is no rationale for using this year’s state revenue to pay last year’s federal administrative costs.  I have been fighting to stop this from happening and when the bill is considered on the Senate floor, I will continue to fight against this unfair provision.”

Senator Barrasso said, “This money could go toward our highways, state capital construction, and for Wyoming families. The federal government is trying to rob our future. I won’t let them pick pocket Wyoming ’s royalty money. I will work hard with my Senate colleagues to strike this provision from the bill.”

The offending provision, put forward by the Administration, seeks to withhold 2 percent of the states’ share of receipts from federal leasing activities. Currently, Wyoming shares royalties with the federal government 50-50. The change would give the federal government 51 percent and Wyoming 49 percent.

The language has also been included in the House version of Interior Appropriations.

On June 18 Enzi sent a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee members in charge of drafting the legislation urging them not to add another complex and burdensome administrative rule to use current-year receipts to pay for past years administrative expenses by scrapping this provision.   

The language in the Interior Appropriations Bill of 2008 reads:

SEC. 424. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 35(b) of the Mineral Leasing Act, as amended (30 U.S.C.  191(b)), before disbursing a payment to a State, the Secretary shall deduct 2 percent from the amount payable to  that State and deposit the amount deducted to miscellaneous receipts of the United States Treasury.

(Explanation) SEC. 424. Requires the Minerals Management Service to withhold 2 percent of the States’ share of receipts from Federal mineral leasing activities for the States’ portion of the administrative costs incurred by the Federal Government.