Feds take in $1 million from drilling permit fees in Colorado
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A new requirement was slipped into a $555 billion federal spending bill late last year, and so far it has brought in more than $1 million to the U.S. government from drilling activity in northwest Colorado.
When President George W. Bush signed the spending bill last December, the Bureau of Land Management began charging a $4,000 fee for each drilling permit on federal lands. The agency is still collecting the fee because of a spending resolution Congress recently passed that keeps the government’s funding at its 2008 levels.
David Boyd, a spokesman for the BLM, said the latest figures show the $4,000 fee brought in $1,068,000 from the 267 drilling permits applications the BLM’s Glenwood Springs field office has processed since the fee went into effect.
“When the companies submit their application, they give us the money,” Boyd said. “They pay that whether we approve (the drilling application) or not.”
While the BLM collects the money, it does not stay at a local level. The money raised from those $4,000 fees goes into the U.S. Treasury, Boyd said.
When the BLM announced the new fee, the agency said it was a “reimbursement” to the U.S. Treasury for the estimated cost of processing new applications for drilling permits.
Jon Bargas, director of public affairs for the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States, said the industry trade group has opposed the fee since it was first signed into the law. The group’s opposition stems from a concern that money generated by the fee goes into the “black hole” of the federal treasury.
Instead, the money should go back to the local BLM field offices, which often “struggle” with problems in managing federal lands for multiple uses, he said.
“We see that as a huge problem,” Bargas said. “We think it is a basically unfair that BLM offices that are collecting the money are not receiving any of the benefit from it.”
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