Today, U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce announced his cosponsorship of H.R. 1972, the State Mineral Revenue Protection Act, a bill that streamlines how mineral royalty payments are distributed to the state and federal government, and protects vital funding for New Mexico.
Under the Mineral Leasing Act (MLA), the federal government is required to give 50% of royalties collected to the state. But recently, the federal government has withheld these funds, citing sequestration. The State Mineral Revenue Protection Act amends the MLA to grant states the option to collect their share of the mineral royalties directly from the producer, and grants those states full property interest in their share. Such changes would bar the federal government from inappropriately withholding states' funds.
"The fact that the federal government has chosen to withhold these royalty payments that rightfully belong to the states is an outrage," said Pearce. "This legislation will streamline the royalty payment distribution, ensuring that New Mexico will receive its share of the payments without interference. There is no reason for the states to be reliant on the federal government to disburse mineral royalty payments when history shows that the federal government cannot be relied upon to make these payments in a timely fashion. This money- which amounts to about $25 million for New Mexico- is too valuable to our schools and communities to let out of the state."
This bipartisan proposal has strong support from New Mexico's Congressional delegation. Congressman Ben Ray Luján is a cosponsor, and Senator Tom Udall is a cosponsor of a companion bill in the Senate.