Feds to restore cuts in mineral payments to states
Billings, Mont. • Dozens of states including Utah will receive an estimated total of $110 million in mineral leasing payments from the federal government following a dispute over automatic spending cuts that drew a backlash from lawmakers in the West.
Interior officials previously defended the cuts by saying they had no choice in the matter under budget rules now in place.
But they said Tuesday that a months-long legal review of the Mineral Leasing Act determined the money must be paid to states at a later date.
Thirty-five states had been denied a portion of their payments for 2013, under automatic spending cuts put in place after Congress failed to agree on a deficit reduction plan.
The money is derived primarily from payments by companies for oil and gas leasing on federal lands and production royalties. The government last year paid $2.1 billion to the states under the program.