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RBC I Colorado U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall welcomed the announcement Thursday by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stating that the Department of the Interior would, in fiscal year 2014, restore mineral leasing revenues to Colorado communities that depend on those funds to help run local governments and schools and provide other critical community services. The announcement comes after Bennet, Udall, and a bipartisan group of senators urged the administration to release the royalties.
As part of the automatic budget cuts commonly referred to as “sequestration,” the Interior Department cut more than $109 million in mineral royalties to states, including $8.4 million for Colorado. Thursday’s decision means that states will receive the royalties they were withheld during FY 2013 at the end of the fiscal year.
“This is the right decision; Colorado communities are legally entitled to these revenues,” Bennet said. “Our state relies on these resources to help provide crucial services like education and safe roads to our residents.
“The Interior Department’s decision to restore these resources gives Coloradans a little more certainty as we continue to look for a long-term solution to this issue and a sensible approach to reduce the federal budget deficit,” he said.”
“Colorado’s oil and gas industry creates jobs throughout the state and is a critical part of our nation’s balanced energy portfolio,” Udall said. “I am pleased … Interior heeded my calls to restore these funds, which communities rely upon to pay for the direct and indirect effects of energy extraction. This is a win for cities and counties from the Western Slope to the Eastern Plains.”
In May, Bennet and Udall joined with a bipartisan group of senators urging the administration to release the mineral royalties to help communities address the effects of energy and mineral production in addition to providing other crucial services.
In a letter to OMB Director Sylvia Burwell, the senators called on the administration to follow the precedent set by the FY 1986 sequester, which directed revenues sequestered in revolving trust and special fund accounts to be made available in subsequent fiscal years.