Bennet bill would return severance tax to counties

RBC I Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet has introduced an amendment to force the federal government to return revenues that were promised to and are rightfully owed to Northwest Colorado.

The long overdue oil and gas lease revenues were originally held to pay for the cleanup of the former Anvil Points federal oil shale research site near Rifle. Following the successful clean-up, which ended in 2013, tens of millions of dollars that should have been distributed according to the Mineral Leasing Act remained in an unused account in the Department of the Interior.
 “Colorado communities have waited far too long for these royalty revenues that are rightfully theirs,” Bennet said. “Our amendment returns tens of millions of dollars that can be put to good use for local economic development instead of being locked away in Washington.”
The U.S. Navy opened the Anvil Points research site in the 1940s to pioneer oil shale mining, processing and research. It was decommissioned in 1986 and transferred to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) by the 1997 Transfer Act. That law required that cleanup of the site would be paid for by revenues from oil and gas leasing.
By the time BLM certified that it had sufficient funds for cleanup in 2008, the fund had generated more than enough money. However, due to an oversight in the 1997 Transfer Act, the excess revenues cannot be distributed.
The Bennet amendment would allow these revenues to be distributed in accordance with the Mineral Leasing Act. Sen. Cory Gardner is a cosponsor of the amendment.