Politicians unite to keep Anvil Points oil shale trust fund money | PostIndependent.com

Politicians unite to keep Anvil Points oil shale trust fund money

Phillip Yates
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Three members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation have agreed to introduce legislation that would send millions of dollars from a government trust fund to Garfield County and three other counties.

The legislation proposed by Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., and Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa, breaks a months-long deadlock between the two senators about how to distribute money in the Anvil Points oil shale trust fund. That fund has been collecting gas lease revenues from the Roan Plateau until the cleanup of the Anvil Points research station near Rulison is complete.

About $88 million is currently in the trust fund, according to a joint statement by Allard and Salazar. Cleanup of the Anvil Points research site north of Rulison is expected to begin in June and is estimated to cost about $23 million.

The introduced legislation would split the money in the trust fund evenly, with $44 million returning to Colorado. The cost of the cleanup would come out of the federal government’s $44 million share.

Garfield and Rio Blanco counties would each receive 40 percent of the expected $44 million returned to Colorado, while Moffat and Mesa counties would each receive 10 percent of that money, according to text of the legislation.

“Without this legislative fix, this money will not come back to Colorado,” said Steve Wymer, a spokesman for Allard.

Counties and municipalities in those counties would have to use the money to mitigate the “effects of oil and gas development activities within the affected counties,” the legislation reads.

The legislation comes almost two months after U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne told both Allard and Salazar that the Interior Department was looking to take about $24 million from the Anvil Points oil shale trust fund.

“Mineral leasing revenues provide a strong economic stream for communities across Colorado’s West Slope and the entire American West,” Ken Salazar said. “It only makes sense the very communities where these resources are extracted will get to benefit from the revenues they help generate.”

Allard said the money will “have a huge impact on our local communities.”

“I am very pleased that [Ken Salazar] and [John Salazar] and I have worked out an agreement on this issue, and we can now offer legislation that will start to return these much-needed funds back to Colorado where they belong.”

The legislation introduced by Allard and the Salazars would also allow Colorado to begin receiving its share of royalties generated from existing federal leases on the Roan Plateau once the cleanup of the research station is completed. About $1.5 million is deposited in the fund every month.

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