Udall floats bill to recover gas-drilling royalties for Garfield, Rio Blanco counties

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall has introduced a bill dubbed the Naval Oil Shale Reserve Mineral Royalty Revenue Allocation Act aimed at recovering $17 million in royalties owed to Garfield and Rio Blanco counties for natural gas drilling.

The bill was introduced to “ensure that Colorado receives all of the compensation it is owed under 1997 legislation that allowed oil and gas drilling on the Naval Oil Shale Reserve,” according to a release late Wednesday from Udall’s office.

“An oversight in the law has meant that Colorado has not received about $17 million in oil and gas royalties, which should have gone to the local community to address impacts caused by drilling and increased traffic in the community. Udall’s bill would fix the problem and ensure that money will go to Rio Blanco and Garfield counties as originally intended.”

The gas-rich Roan Plateau in Garfield and Rio Blanco counties in northwest Colorado is part of Naval Oil Shale Reserve (NOSR) 3, set aside by the federal government in the early 1900s to serve as a backup fuel supply for the U.S. Navy, which was converting at the time to oil- rather coal-powered engines. NOSR 3 was turned over to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in the 1990s, and commercial drilling was allowed by permit.

Udall will conduct a press conference on the legislation today.

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is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail and Real Aspen.


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