AFP Demands Action in Response to Great Energy Royalty Rip-off

June 14, 2013

Feds short the state $8.4 million and most leaders hawn

Colorado Springs — Americans for Prosperity-Colorado today called on Colorado’s top elected officials, including Gov. John Hickenlooper, Attorney General John Suthers and U.S. Sens. Udall and Bennet, to fight back against Washington’s withholding of $8.4 million in energy royalty payments owed the state, as part of the Obama administration’s effort to punish Americans with punitive sequestration cuts. Washington recently stiffed states of $110 million in royalty payments, claiming this was mandated by 5.1 percent across-the-board sequestration cuts. But some members of Congress are challenging what the Energy Producing States Coalition called an act of “theft” by the federal government.

AFP-Colorado argues that energy royalty payments are categorically different from appropriated funds, raising questions about whether they’re subject to sequestration, and in a separate letter sought an opinion from Attorney General John Suthers on the legality of Washington’s actions. Bipartisan efforts are afoot in Congress and elsewhere to fight the withholdings and demand the full payment of royalties, but most of Colorado’s top elected officials — and all the top Democrats — have been silent in response to what AFP-Co calls The Great Energy Royalty Rip-off.

“The $8.4 million in energy royalties the feds just took from the state is real money, even by Washington standards,” said AFP-Co Acting State Director Sean Paige. “We’re just amazed that no one in a strong position to protest or stop the rip-off seems inclined to do so.” Paige says he hoped a sought-after legal opinion from the Attorney General would help clarify constitutional questions raised by the federal raid on royalty funds, and he urged the AG to pursue legal action if that’s what it takes to recover full funding and get the state justice.

“Energy royalty payments aren’t distributed from the U.S. Treasury based on congressional whim,” Paige added.  “They’re directly derived from energy-related activities taking place on federal lands in Colorado, as part of a contractual arrangement dating back to 1920. We all know that the Obama administration’s goal is to maximize pain through punitive sequester cuts, but the President may have bent the rules, and violated longstanding contractual arrangements, when he raided this particular cookie jar. And unless Colorado’s top elected officials fight back, he might just get away with it.”

In addition to writing Sens. Udall and Bennet, asking why they haven’t signed-on to a bipartisan Senate bill aimed at recovering the funds, AFP-Co also sent letters to the governor and attorney general, asking them to use any means necessary, including legal action, to recover the withheld funds. All letters will be made available to members of the media upon request.

Please direct all media inquiries to AFP deputy state director Sean Paige at 719-337-0355 or spaige@afphq.org.

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