Evans looks to boost federal mineral royalties for county
If Jim Evans has his way, Garfield County well could receive significantly more in federal mineral leasing royalties in the future.Evans, director of the Association of Governments of Northwest Colorado, wants the royalty pie cut in larger slices for counties most affected by gas production on federal lands.Evans is looking for legislative sponsors to propose a bill to that effect. He outlined the plan for the Garfield County Commissioners on Monday.Here’s how the pie-slicing works. Fifty percent of the royalties from the income received from federal land leased for mineral production is returned to the state where the mineral was extracted.Colorado, in distributing that money, gives priority to school districts and local government socially or economically impacted by mineral production.The state distributes 50 percent of the funds to the county of origin, 25 percent to the state school fund, 15 percent to the Department of Local Affairs and 10 percent to the Water Conservation Board.DOLA in turn uses part of that money to make grants from its Energy Impact Assistance Fund to local governments affected by mining and gas production.Six counties, including Garfield, that have the greatest impact from mineral extraction now have a cap of $1.2 million they can receive from the state, Evans said.Evans explained that the proposed legislation would give the six counties 50 percent of DOLA’s present share of funding, a shift of $1.1 million from DOLA’s Energy Impact Grant Fund.Garfield County may see significantly higher royalties from the Roan Plateau.If the Bureau of Land Management adopts the preferred alternative for managing the plateau, there could be an estimated 1,324 new natural gas wells on the top of the plateau, which could result in nearly $300 million over the management plan’s 20-year life span.Royalties from drilling at the base of the Roan Plateau currently amount to $1 million a month, Evans said.”All that stays with the feds,” he said, with no portion going to the counties. The federal Department of Energy administered the Naval Oil Shale Reserve on the Roan Plateau until 1998 when it handed over to the BLM. DOE is holding its royalties, Evans explained, until it is reimbursed for its investments in exploratory drilling on the Roan Plateau prior to transferring the Naval Oil Shale Reserve to BLM for mineral leasing. BLM is also holding back royalties to cover environmental cleanup of spent oil shale containing toxic chemicals at the Anvil Points oil shale project.The county commissioners heartily endorsed Evans’ proposal.”Let’s get that cap up,” Commissioner John Martin added.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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