Tipton bill would fund education through expanded drilling | PostIndependent.com

Tipton bill would fund education through expanded drilling

A new bill introduced in Congress last week by Colorado’s Third District Congressman Scott Tipton would dedicate a portion of federal tax revenues derived from new oil and gas drilling to fund education.

“This is an opportunity to approach education funding in a new way that doesn’t increase the federal deficit, all the while creating jobs and reliable domestic energy,” Tipton, R-Cortez, said in a press release.

“With so many states in desperate need of additional funding for K-12 and higher education, this legislation provides a way to make a considerable investment in our children’s future and our universities,” Tipton said.

The Education and Energy Act of 2011 would dedicate 33 percent of the federal portion of oil and gas revenues derived from new leases in Colorado and other states, back to the department of education of that particular state.

The funding would apply to states that choose to develop domestic mineral resources on federal lands under new leases granted by the Secretary of the Interior, Tipton spokesman Josh Green explained.

The bill would also distribute 17 percent of new federal revenues beyond anticipated budget amounts from energy development to all states for education purposes.

“This would only apply to new leases, not existing ones, and to funds that have not yet been appropriated,” Green said.

The bill is being co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah. Additional co-sponsors are being sought, and Green said Tipton is also hopeful that the bill will garner bipartisan support.

“There is bipartisan interest in education issues, and we are optimistic for that support,” Green said.

Green said heavier energy producing regions, such as Garfield County and other counties in northwest Colorado, would not necessarily see greater funding under the legislation.

“It gets tricky with the earmark rules of Congress to distribute the money lower than the state level,” he said.

However, the state could decide to distribute the money proportionally to those areas.

Tipton said the bill both creates a new way to fund education, and creates jobs in regions where there are large energy reserves.

“In doing this, we can reduce our dependence on foreign energy, provide increased availability to affordable domestic energy, and create jobs while providing a portion of federal revenues from domestic energy production projects to states for educational purposes,” he said in the release.

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