Utah stands to lose more than $4 million under changes in the way the states and federal government apportion mineral royalties from public lands.
Under the old system, the Bureau of Land Management handled the leasing and split production royalties 50-50 with the states.
Beginning with the fiscal 1991 budget, Congress said the states would have to pay one-quarter of the administrative costs for the mineral leasing program.For Utah, that would be an annual fee of about $2.5 million deducted from its approximately $33 million share of coal, natural gas and oil production royalties from the state's public lands, according to state geologist Lee Allison.
Now the Bush administration has gone the House and Senate one better and increased the states' share of the program costs to 37.5 percent for fiscal 1993.
Utah's portion of the for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 will jump to $3.9 million, but Allison said Utah's loss will be closer to $4.2 million, and he calls it "an unfair and repressive fee."
"We have no voice in what those costs will be," he said. "They will not provide an accounting and we can't do anything about it. It encourages them to charge as many costs as they can to administration.
"The states should be allowed to take over administration of the mineral lease royalty program. It would be in our best interests to keep the costs low."
Under the Bush administration proposal, the state Board of Regents and the Community Impact Board each would lose about $1.33 million and the Utah Transportation Department $1 million. Allison's Utah Geological Survey, the state Board of Education and the state Water Resources Department would lose about $95,000 each. The counties would get about $95,000 less to divide.
In a small agency such as the Geological Survey, the loss of $95,000 each year "is a substantial hit," Allison said.
Allison said Wyoming Sen. Malcolm Wallop is heading the effort to stop the administration or to allow the Western states to take over the job of the BLM's Mineral Management Service.
The BLM has agreed to study whether some functions can be turned over to the states and what the impact would be, depending on how much of the auditing, collecting, disbursement or monitoring workload it might give up.