SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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OVERSIGHT HEARING ON THE PRESIDENT'S FISCAL YEAR 1999 BUDGET REQUEST FOR AGENCIES
SUBCOMMITTEE ON ENERGY
AND MINERAL RESOURCES
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTHE PRESIDENT'S FISCAL YEAR 1999 BUDGET REQUEST FOR AGENCIES WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR: OFFICE OF SURFACE MINING, MINERALS MANAGEMENT SERVICE, AND THE ENERGY & MINERALS PROGRAMS OF THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
FEBRUARY 26, 1998, WASHINGTON, DC
Serial No. 10574
Printed for the use of the Committee on Resources
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
DON YOUNG, Alaska, Chairman
W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, California
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
KEN CALVERT, California
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
BARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCHELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho
LINDA SMITH, Washington
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
WILLIAM M. (MAC) THORNBERRY, Texas
JOHN SHADEGG, Arizona
JOHN E. ENSIGN, Nevada
ROBERT F. SMITH, Oregon
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania
RICK HILL, Montana
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
MICHAEL D. CRAPO, Idaho
GEORGE MILLER, California
EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCOWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
MAURICE D. HINCHEY, New York
ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
SAM FARR, California
PATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
ADAM SMITH, Washington
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
CHRIS JOHN, Louisiana
DONNA CHRISTIAN-GREEN, Virgin Islands
RON KIND, Wisconsin
LLOYD DOGGETT, Texas
LLOYD A. JONES, Chief of Staff
ELIZABETH MEGGINSON, Chief Counsel
CHRISTINE KENNEDY, Chief Clerk/Administrator
JOHN LAWRENCE, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources
BARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming, CHAIRMAN
W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana
JOHN L. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
KEN CALVERT, California
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCWILLIAM M. (MAC) THORNBERRY, Texas
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
CARLOS ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
CHRIS JOHN, Louisiana
DONNA CHRISTIAN-GREEN, Virgin Islands
BILL CONDIT, Staff Director
MICHAEL HENRY, Professional Staff
DEBORAH LANZONE, Professional Staff
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held February 26, 1998
Statements of Members:
Cubin, Hon. Barbara, a Representative in Congress from the State of Wyoming
Romero-Barceló, Hon. Carlos A., a Delegate in Congress from the State of Peurto Rico, prepared statement of
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Statements of witnesses:
Fry, Tom, Director, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior
Prepared statement of
Karpan, Kathy, Director, Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation and Enforcement, U.S. Department of Interior
Prepared statement of
Quarterman, Cynthia, Director, Minerals Management Service, U.S. Department of the Interior
Prepared statement of
Additional material supplied:
OCS Report, MMS98-0013, Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf
OVERSIGHT HEARING ON THE PRESIDENT'S FISCAL YEAR 1999 BUDGET REQUEST FOR AGENCIES WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR: OFFICE OF SURFACE MINING, MINERALS MANAGEMENT SERVICE, AND THE ENERGY & MINERALS PROGRAMS OF THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 1998
House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, Committee on Resources, Washington, DC.
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2 p.m., in room 1334, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Barbara Cubin (Chairman of the Subcommittee) presiding.
Members present: Representatives Calvert, Romero-Barceló, Rahall, and Christian-Green.
STATEMENT OF HON. BARBARA CUBIN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF WYOMING
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CUBIN. [presiding] The Subcommittee on Mineral Resources will come to order.
The Subcommittee is meeting today to hear testimony on the administration's fiscal year 1999 budget request for three Interior Department agencies within our jurisdiction. These are the Minerals Management Service, the Bureau of Land Management's Energy & Minerals programs, and the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation & Enforcement. Under rule 4(g) of the Committee rules, any oral opening statements are limited to the Chairman and the Ranking Minority Member. I mean like I'm worried that all these people that are here are going to take[Laughter.]a lot of time. This will allow us to hear from our witnesses sooner and help members to keep their schedules.
The bureaus before us today serve primarily in a regulatory role, overseeing environmentally sound exploration of and development of federally owned mineral rights and ensuring the revenues therefrom are collected and distributed properly. Unique among the Subcommittee's purview is the Office of Surface Mining, which administers the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1997excuse me, 1977governing the manner in which all coal deposits are mined in this country, public or private, from the standpoint of surface impacts of strip mining or underground mining.
Today, I am pleased to have before us Ms. Kathy Karpan, of Rock Springs, Wyoming, who was confirmed by the Senate last September as the Director of OSM. This is the first opportunity that Ms. Karpan has had to testify before the Subcommittee, and, being a fellow cowgirl or cowboy from the ''Cowboy State,'' I really welcome you. I'm glad you're here, and I really look forward to working with you. I think we'll have a long and workable and beneficial relationship. So, welcome.
Ms. KARPAN. Thank you.
Mrs. CUBIN. You want to tell a little bit more about you?
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Laughter.]
Ms. KARPAN. Well, it depends.
Mrs. CUBIN. It's nice.
Ms. Karpan is the daughter of a Wyoming coal miner, and so I think it's really appropriate that she should be in this job. I think that as shewill have some insight into coal mining that maybe other people wouldn't have, having lived in the circumstances that surround coal mining most all of her life.
Under her, guidanceoh, by the way, Ms. Karpan has received praise from all sides of all the issues in the 5 months that she has been here. I have heard compliments on her management skills and her skills just in general.
Under her guidance, OSM is making good faith efforts to involve the States, industry, and coal field residents alike in seeking solutions to issues that have spawned tons of litigation in the past. And that, in itself, is truly wonderful and quite remarkable. Thank you, Director Karpan, for these efforts, and I know that you'll keep up the good work.
Ms. KARPAN. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Mrs. CUBIN. The Minerals Management Service administers Federal leases for energy and mineral resources on the outer continental shelf of the United States, and collects mineral royalty payments for onshore Federal and Indian leases as well as offshore. It's an important job collecting $6 billion of mineral revenues each year, as well as managing booming development in the Gulf of Mexico, which generates a large fraction of those moneys for the treasury. Ms. Cynthia Quartermanand I just called her Emily because there was a reporter on the Casper Star Tribune staff that was called Emily Quarterman, and so excuse me for just calling you Emily. I knew you were Cynthia.
Ms. Cynthia Quarterman, Director of MMS, will testify today as to her agency's budget needs.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Bureau of Land Management Energy and Minerals programs also fall under our Subcommittee's oversight. The BLM, among other jobs, administers the laws governing the disposition of energy and mineral resources from our public domain lands and reserved Federal mineral estates, including the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 and the Mining Law of 1872.
In my State and in much of the West, the BLM manages vast tracts of public land and the subsurface of split-estates. If you want to explore for and develop oil, gas, coal, trona, or uranium or other hard rock minerals, you simply have to deal with the BLM. It's an agency from which there is no escape. Mr. Tom Fry, Deputy Director
Mrs. CUBIN. I know. That's a good one, isn't it?
Mr. Tom Fry, Deputy Director of BLM, will testify as to his program's needs for the coming fiscal year.
I welcome both Ms. Quarterman and Mr. Fry, neither of whom is a Wyoming native to my knowledge, but who, I trust, are prepared to work with this Subcommittee nonetheless.
Now the Chair will recognize Mr. Rahall for any statement that he might have.
Ms. RAHALL. Thank you, Madam Chair. I do ask unanimous consent that the Ranking Minority Member, Mr. Romero-Barceló's comments be made part of the record.
Mrs. CUBIN. Without objection.
[The statement of Mr. Romero-Barceló follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. CARLOS ROMERO-BARCELÓ, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE TERRITORY OF PUERTO RICO
Madame Chair, I am pleased to join you in welcoming our three witnesses from the Department of the Interior to discuss the Administration's requests for fiscal year 1999 funding for the Bureau of Land Management's energy and minerals program, the Minerals Management Service, and the Office of Surface Mining.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC President Clinton has proposed a balanced budget for 1999, 3 years earlier than agreed to in last year's Bipartisan Budget Agreement. Within the framework of a balanced budget, the Administration has protected the basic operating programs for the programs for which we have oversight duties. The OSM request is $277 million; the MMS request is approximately $222.5 million, and the BLM energy and minerals request is approximately $72 million, including the Alaska minerals account.
Underlying these requests are several key policy matters that this Subcommittee has a duty to consider.
The Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing program raises a great deal of revenueon average, about $4 billion each yearand I note that this program raised $6.2 billion last year, largely due to increased activity in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, MMS is requesting a $7.5 million supplemental appropriation to accommodate this increased activity which I believe we should support.
It is worth noting that of the royalties collected, MMS distributed more than $617 million to 36 states during 1997, more than in any previous year. This amount is $89 million more than in 1996, and $144 million more than in 1995. The money represents the states' cumulative share of revenues collected for mineral production on Federal lands located within their borders and from Federal offshore oil and gas tracts adjacent to their shores.
The MMS request is about $13.9 million above the 1998 enacted level. This request is modest compared to the revenue return MMS will generate.
As part of its request, BLM proposes permanent extension of the $100 holding fee currently charged basis individuals who stake and hold Federal land under the 1872 Mining Law. These funds are used to offset the costs of running the mining law program. The authority for the fee is scheduled to expire in 1998. We should support the President's proposal to permanently extend the $100 holding fee and $25 recordation fee.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As part of its budget request, OSM is requesting an additional $2 million for its Clean Streams Initiative and $100,000 for its Western Lands Initiative as part of the President's Clean Water Initiative. These funds, raised through fees on coal mining, will be used along with an additional $168.6 millionwith $143.3 million going directly to coalfield Statesto clean up abandoned mine sites. Our colleague, Congressman Rahall believes additional funds should be made available for this purpose. I ask unanimous consent that his letter to Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Regula be included in today's hearing record.
All in all, these budgets appear to be reasonable. I look forward to hearing the testimony of our witnesses.
Mr. RAHALL. Thank you.
While I recognize that all of the budgets that are under consideration during today's hearings are important, I would like to focus my comments on one particular aspect of today's hearings.
Like many Americans, I'm growing increasingly concerned with the failure of our Federal Government to keep the faith with taxpayers when it comes to the trust funds we've established on the books of the Treasury. And before I proceed, I'll be glad to yield to the Ranking Minority Member if he wishes to make his statement himself.
What I'm referring to, Madam Chair and my colleagues, is when people go to the gas pumps and they fill up their vehicles, when those dials continue to spin in front of us, we're paying taxes into the Highway Trust Fund. And we expect that money to be returned in the form of improved bridges and highways. Yet, today over $24 billion is being held hostage in the Highway Trust Fund.
And we have a very similar situation when the coal industry pays a fee on every ton of mined coal into the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund. Coalfield citizens expect that money to be returned to than in the form of environmental restoration work. Yet today, there's about $1.5 billion sitting idle here in Washington in that fund, and it's used by the OMB and congressional budgeteers to mask the true size our Federal deficit.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Meanwhile, throughout the coalfields of the United States, there's an unfunded inventory of over $2.4 billion worth of high-priority threats to the health, safety, and general welfare of our coalfield citizens. Annually, we receive about $266 million from reclamation fee collections. Yet, during the 1990's, appropriations for the AML State Grants program have averaged only about $140 million a year.
Both Republican and Democratic administrations have failed to keep faith with the promise that we made in 1977 when we enacted SMCRA, which established the AML program.
I believe it is incumbent upon us, as Members of Congress, to rectify this situation. In this regard, I am pleased to note that the Associated General Contractors of America have joined with such groups as the United Mine Workers and the Citizens Coal Council in support of my ''Coal Field Jobs Environmental Justice and Trust'' campaign. What we are seeking is a minimum $200 million State AML grant appropriation.
We're doing so because every $1 million spent under this program creates jobs, jobs, jobsto the tune of 17 direct construction jobs, 14 off-site, and 28 ancillary jobs in areas where unemployment levels often exceed the national average. We're doing so because of the pressing need for environmental justice in our coalfields, to address the pressing threats to the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens caused by abandoned mine sites.
And we're doing so to restore trusttrustto the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund so that we can better fulfill the promise that we made to our coalfield citizens with the enactment of SMCRA more than 20 years ago.
So, in conclusion, perhaps one day some administration will see the error of its ways. Perhaps some day, some administration will conclude that allowing millions of dollars worth of interest to accrue to unappropriated trust fund balances is not a physically responsible way of doing business. Rather, I hope some day, some administration will realize that spending those moneys for their intended purposes would much better meet the public good.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The administration, as reflected by its budget recommendations for AML, has failed to come to this realization. So, I conclude by saying: set these trust funds free.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Mrs. CUBIN. Certainly. Mr. Barceló did you want to give your remarks orally?
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Thank you. Thank you, Madam Chair.
And Madam Chair, I am pleased to join you in welcoming our three witnesses from the Department of the Interior to discuss the administration's request for the fiscal year 1999 funding for the Bureau of Land Management Energy and Mineral Program, and the Minerals Management Service, and the Office of Surface Mining.
President Clinton has proposed a balanced budget for 1999, and 3 years earlier than agreed in last year's bipartisan budget agreement. And within the framework of a balanced budget, the administration has protected the basic operating programs for the programs for which we have oversight duties. And the OSM request is $277 million; the MMS request is approximately $222.5 million; and the BLM Energy and Mineral request is approximately $72 million, including the Alaska minerals account.
Underlying these requests are severalpolicykey policy matters that this Subcommittee has a duty to consider. The Outer Continental Shelf and Oil and Gas Leasing program raises a great deal of revenue, on average about $4 billion each year, and I note that this program raised $6.2 billion last year, largely due to the increased activity in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, the MLS is requesting a $7.5 million supplemental appropriation to accommodate this increased activity, which I believe we should support. And it is worth noting that of the royalties collected, MLS has distributed more than $617 million to 36 states during 1997, more than in any previous year. The amount is $89 million more than in 1996 and $144 million more than in 1995. And the money represents the States' cumulative share of revenues collected for mineral production on Federal lands located within their borders and from Federal offshore oil and gas tracts adjacent to their shores.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The MMS request is about $13.9 million above the 1998 enacted level, and this request is modest compared to the revenue return MMS schools generate. And as part of this request, BLM proposes permanent extension of the $100 holding fee requested currently charged basis individuals who stake and hold Federal land under the 1872 mining law. And these funds are used to offset the costs of running the mining law program, and the authority for the fee is scheduled to expire in 1998.
We should support the President's proposals to permanently extend the $100 holding fee and the $25 recordation fee. And as part of its budget request, OSM is requesting an additional $2 million for its clean streams initiative and $100,000 for its western land initiative, as part of the President's clean water initiative.
These funds, raised through fees on coal mining, will be used along with an additional $168.6 million, with $143.3 million going directly to coal fields States to clean up abandoned mine sites. And our colleague, Congressman Rahall, believes additional funds should be made available for this purpose. And I ask unanimous consent that this letter to Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Regula be included in today's hearing record. And I point out that these budgets appear to be reasonable, and I look forward to hearing the testimony of our witnesses.
Thank you, Madam Chair. I would like to submit for the record.
Mrs. CUBIN. Thank you, Mr. Barceló.
Now, I would ask, before you begin your testimonythatask the witnesses to stand and raise your right hand to be sworn. We do this routinely on this Subcommittee; it is absolutely nothing personal.
Mrs. CUBIN. Thank you.
Welcome to the hearing, Mrs. Green. Did you have an opening statement or would you like submit something for the record. Or whatever you'd like
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. I do have a brief opening statement.
Mrs. CUBIN. Go right ahead.
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. Thank you, Madam Chairman, and good afternoon. Welcome to the panelists and my colleagues on the Subcommittee. I am pleased to be here at this the first meeting of the Subcommittee for 1998andto discuss the administration's fiscal year 1999 budget request.
While I am pleased to welcome all the witnesses who are here today, I am especially pleased to welcome back Ms. Quarterman, who I believe is making her third appearance before us. It's good to see you again.
Based on the statements that you have submitted to us, it appears that there are quite a lot of good things going on at the various agencies. I notice that the Mineral Management Services is requesting $14 million more than was appropriated last year, and the Office of Surface Mining is asking for a $3.9 million increase. These, I might add, are modest increases when compared to the level of revenue that all or your agencies generate for the Federal Government. In fact, I almost wished that, when I read that most of the money appropriated to us is passed to the States and tribes in the form of grants, if we had a few mines in my district in the Virgin Islands[Laughter.]and go home and look for some.
I am also pleased to see, though, that even as the President was able to submit a balanced budget to Congress this year, the funding levels for your various important programs were protected. And so, I look forward to hearing your testimony today and working with you to ensure that you are given the resources that you need to complete your various missions.
Thanks. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Mrs. CUBIN. Thank you.
Let me remind the witnesses that, under our Committee rulesI think in the letter it said we would give you 10 minutes for your testimony, and so we'll ask you to stick to that if you can. And so the Chair now recognizes Ms. Karpan.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF KATHY KARPAN, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF SURFACE MINING AND RECLAMATION AND ENFORCEMENT, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR
Ms. KARPAN. Thank you very much, Chairman Cubin.
I'll try not to even consume half that in the interest of attracting some questions. As Yogi Berra used to say, ''this is deja vu all over again,'' since in a former life for both of us I, from time to time, worked with then State representative Cubin, when I was Secretary of State in Wyoming. And I enjoyed that working relationship, and I think some very good laws came out of it. And I have respected and admired you, and I'm delighted that we can be working together. And I thank you for the nice reception you've given me and the kind comments you've passed along, and in being generous in not passing along those that might not be kind.
Yes, I am the daughter of a coal miner. In fact, theminorityRanking Minority Member might be interested to know that my grandparents emigrated to this country from what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire and came here to mine coalboth my grandfathers: one to Iowa and one to Wyoming. And my father moved from Iowa to Wyoming in 1938 to work in the old Dale Clark mine, which was a huge mine for the Union Pacific. And I, in fact, grew up in a neighborhood that was called No. 4, for No. 4 mine of the Union Pacific. And it was a neighborhood that was filled with immigrants and filled with hard work and high hopes. And when people turned 40, the women all started wearing clothes that were black. And when their hair got gray, the men and women alike, we all thought spoke a different language because, in our neighborhood, none of the older people spoke English. So, I grew up in a community where coal meant so much, and I've appreciated ever since then the tremendous contribution that industry makes to our national security and to our economy.
But I also grew up in a community that has struggled with the subsidence problem for 20 years. And it was my good fortune for then-Congressman Teno Roncaglio, one of your distinguished predecessors, Madam Chairman, and worked 6 years in this building, including a few years while he was struggling with the language in SMCRA. I wasn't here at the time it was passed, but I recall the circumstances that led to its enactment. And, as irony would have it, it was 26 years ago today that the Buffalo Creek disaster destroyed the lives of 125 people and helped provide the impetus for the enactment of the law.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC By coincidence, too, I just missed being sworn in on the 20th anniversary of SMCRA. I was sworn in on August 1, and so I bring the zeal of someone who's new to the job, and even a little bit of sentimentality.
I that time, I have traveled to every one of our regionsvisited a lot of field offices. I've been to the coal fields, met with citizen groups. And while I can appreciate some of the difficulties our agency went through in the last few years, I think I can report to the Subcommittee confidently that this is a stronger and better agency today. We are on a very stable course now. As a member observed, we are only seeking under a $4 million increase, so we are staying at a fairly constant level. And we're working to improve every area of our work, noting in particular, Madam Chair, the relationship with the States. I think I bring to this position, as a former elected State official, a particular sensitivity to the importance of our working hand in hand with the regulatory authorities who have primacy under the statute.
So, I thank you for this opportunity. I believe our budget is pretty straightforward, but I know that we have many activities we engage in that might interest you, so I would welcome your questions and comments. And if I can't answer them, we'll be sure to provide a written answer. I would ask that the letter that I submitted be included as part of the record.
And with that, I would thank the Chair.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Karpan may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CUBIN. Thank you for your testimony. The Chair now recognizes Ms. Quarterman.
STATEMENT OF CYNTHIA QUARTERMAN, DIRECTOR, MINERALS MANAGEMENT SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Ms. QUARTERMAN. Madam Chairwoman and members of the Subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to come to speak with you today and discuss the Minerals Management Service fiscal year 1999 budget request. I'll limit my opening remarks to an overview of our budget request. However, my written testimony provides substantially more detail on our activities and the reasons we are asking for this request.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As you have no doubt heard me say before, MMS is an agency that's constantly changing and evolving, due, in part, to many external forces, but also due to our desire to do our job better. I believe that we have made significant strides, and my testimony before this Subcommittee over the years has highlighted our progress on many fronts. However, there are still substantial challenges that we must meet if we are to continue to successfully accomplish our mission.
Our budget requests for fiscal year 1999 reflects that fact. For example, in our Offshore Minerals Management program we are addressing a range of issues associated with the huge resurgence in oil and gas interest in the Gulf of Mexico, particularly the deep water gulf, including critical technological, safety, and environmental issues. We are continuing to focus our efforts on appropriately managing oil and gas activities offshore California and Alaska. We are also attempting to address the dramatic increase in State interest in using OCS sand and gravel resources and requests from other nations to assist them on mineral leasing regulation and revenue collection. And we're looking at ways to streamline the offshore program.
Within the Royalty Management program, we are reengineering our current processes and systems to develop the most cost effective operations, to ensure that revenues are paid on time and accurately. We are revising our evaluation regulations to respond flexibly to market conditions while ensuring a fair return on the public's resources. And we are looking to alternatives to taking royalties and value and are planning to conduct pilots to determine the best way to take oil in-kind.
With those remarks as an introduction, I will now highlight our fiscal year 1999 request.
Overall, in 1999, MMS is asking for $222.5 million to carry out its responsibilities. That amount is $13.9 million more than our current fiscal year 1998 enacted level. It is predicated on receiving a supplemental increase in fiscal year 1998 of $6.7 million, and reflects significant investments in both the offshore and royalty programs. It is important to note that our request for appropriated dollars is actually decreasing. Our fiscal year 1996 request is about $15.1 million less than our fiscal year 1998 enacted level, and that is due to programmatic reductions of almost $4 million and an expansion of our authority to retain a portion of OCS rental receipts, from $65 million to $94 million. In short, our proposed fiscal year 1999 increase is more than offset by raising the cap on these collections.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The investments that we are proposing in fiscal year 1999 will be directed to two primary areas. One is supporting workload increases in the Gulf of Mexico, and the other to reengineering the Royalty Management program.
I will summarize our planned investments to this point, but I would like to submit for the record two white papers that we have developed which detail the rationale for these proposed increases.
With respect to the offshore program, the administration recently sent a fiscal year 1998 supplemental budget request to Congress. In it, we are asking for an additional $6.7 million to carry out our significantly increased responsibilities in the deep water Gulf of Mexico. This is the first time that we have come to the Committee with a proposed supplemental budget request to handle our ongoing workload. Surging activities in the Gulf have surpassed even our most bullish predictions at the time we formulated our fiscal year 1998 budget request, and now they threaten our ability to perform our regulatory responsibilities. Without the staff and resources to support and oversee increased activity, the benefits of more domestically produced energy resources, royalty revenues, and employment opportunitiesmay bemay not be realized.
I just want to illustrate for you some of the things that have happened in the past year in the Gulf of Mexico.
In 1996 and 1997, we had four record Gulf of Mexico sales in a row. Bonuses totaled $2.4 billion. That's three times more than we received in the previous 4 years. In less than 3 years, existing leases have increased from 5,000 to over 7,600. Almost half of those are in greater than a thousand feet of water. This past year, for the first time, the majority of tracts that we leased were in more than 2,400 feet of water. Last year, we received a record 11 deep water discoverieswere announced. And this year, we expect a record nine projects in deep water to go online. Last year, there were four deep water world records set in the Gulf of Mexico.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In 1997, the Gulf Regional office received 849 plans to process. That's a 95 percent increase from the past 4 years. I could go on and on.
This increased production is estimated to bring in an additional $700 million on royalties to the treasury. These statistics underscore why our workload has increased so quickly and dramatically and why we critically need the additional moneys. If we cannot continue to perform our responsibilities in a timely manner, then at the very least the Federal Government will not receive the significant revenues that have been generated from OCS activity in a timely manner; and industry will incur expensive downtime. It's also very critical that we ensure that industry maintains an excellent safety and environmental record. A serious accident in the Gulf of Mexico would undermine the public's confidence in the entire program and jeopardize all of these benefits.
I firmly believe that the $6.7 million we are requesting in supplemental funding will be an excellent investment in the nation's energy and economic future.
Now as the to Royalty Management program: MMS's top priority in the new millennium is to reengineer its royalty management program. We are requesting $5 million to begin this effort. The first question, you may ask, is, ''in particularly in these tight budget times, why is this initiative necessary.'' The answer is straightforward.
First, the current software required to support the myriad Royalty Management program functions is based on programs that are over 15 years old, and had exceeded theirlife acceptancelife cycle standard. These systems, if not upgraded, present a major risk for MMS and its customers.
Second, implementing the Royalty Simplification and Fairness Act has been particularly difficult for us. State delegation provisions of the Act will not be able to effectively be accommodated with our current royalty systems.
Finally, there are numerous other factors that are influential in pursuing this initiative, including changing energy markets, meeting customer demands, the recommendations of our Royalty Policy Committee, best practices that we've observed in State programs, inspector general reports calling for greater operational efficiency, and Federal downsizing, to name only a few.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Given all of these things, we concluded that the status quo which, as you know, includes significant improvements on the margin was not acceptable strategy for the future. Our reengineering effort will rethink our current operations by focusing on royalty management from a process rather than a functional perspective. And it's goal is to provide better service at less cost.
In developing our new core business processes, we have been guided by two goals. The first is to ensure compliance with all relevant laws for all leases in the shortest time possible, but no longer than 3 years from the due date. That's less than half the current time. And providing revenue recipients with access to their money in 24 hours rather than 30 days, as is the current standard. These are lofty goals, but ones that we think that we can achieve.
While the reengineering effort will require an up front cost, we expect that the moneys expended will be a good investment, with a return in no more than 2 years. At the end of the process, we will have a program that is highly integrated, process centered, focused on outcomes, less costly, and viewed by our customers and others as the best in the business.
Madam Chairwoman, that concludes my opening remarks.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Quarterman may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CUBIN. Thank you very much.
Mr. Fry is recognized.
STATEMENT OF TOM FRY, DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Mr. FRY. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
It's a pleasure to be here to participate with this distinguished panel before this Subcommittee.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Madam Chairman, let me say that I have been to Wyoming, and I've never had to escape from Wyoming, nor from Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands or California.
Mr. FRY. So, so far, my history is pretty good.
It is a pleasure to be here with you today and talk to you about some of the programsthe MM, excuse methe Bureau of Land Management is involved in.
The President's fiscal budget for fiscal year 1999 has a request for approximately $1.2 billion for the BLM. This level of funding includes moneys for operation of the bureau, payment in lieu of taxes, firefighting activities, and the central hazardous materials management for the Department of the Interior.
Of that total budget, approximately $71 million is for energy and mineral activity, and $33 million is intended as a one-time appropriation for mining law administration. As this Committee is undoubtedly aware, the public lands produce about 33 percent of the nation's coal, 10 percent of its natural gas, and 5 percent of its oil. At the end of 1997, more than 46,000 leases existed on Federal lands covering about 37,000,000 acres. And about 20,000 of those leases were in producing status, with more than 63,000 producing wells on public land. This figure is up nearly 30 percent since 1985, while natural gas production has increased over 60 percent in the last 10 years. We expect in 1998 for royalties from the Federal lands to exceed $785 million.
There are couple of initiatives that I would just like to point out to you that are very important to our new director who was confirmed this year with director Karpan. Pat Shea has said that he has a couple of things that he was to make sure happen. One of those things is the implementation of our Automated Land Management Record System, which has a great deal of interest in the oil and gas and mineral community, because it would allow us to link land descriptions, geographic coordinates, land and mineral ownership and resource data into a single data base. And he is committed to having the first phase of that up and running in this year. First, we've gotten started turning on the system in New Mexico, and we are adding some other States shortly.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Another initiative of his is the renewed emphasis on production verification, which we may have an opportunity to talk about a little later.
Four other initiatives that I would like to briefly bring theCommittee up to date onthe Subcommittee up to date on.
One is the REGO II efforts, or Reorganization of Government efforts, which has been an ongoing project between the bureau and the IOGCC. The States, through the IOGCC, have indicated that they do not have an interest in delegation authority, which would be allowed by the Federal Oil and GasManagementRoyalty Management Act. However, we have been able to enter into a number of MOUs with a number of States, and are willing to continue to work with the IOGCC and other States to share responsibilities.
Another area that we have been involved in is stripper well rate reduction. Earlier this month, the BLM announced that it would extend its royalty rate reduction for Federal stripper wells which produce an average less than 15 barrels a day on oil properties. While working closely with industry, we did similar look at marginal gas wells and found that that would not be revenue neutral. However, given the recent, dramatic downturn in oil prices, continuing this royalty rate reduction for oil will keep many stripper oil wells producing that might otherwise be shut in. What this means is that under certain conditions, the royalty rate can be reduced substantially from the normal 12.5 percent.
Concerning mining law administrationthis year's budget contains a one-time appropriation to support a legislative proposal to permanently authorize collecting of mining claims, maintenance and location fees. Since 1993, the BLM has collected a mining claim maintenance fee of $100 and a claim location fee of $25 to offset the costs of the mining law program. The authority to collect these fees expires in September 1998. This budget proposal would permanently extend the collection of the mining claim fees and the location fees.
Lastly, let me mention the 3809 regulations, or the Surface Management Regulations. In 1997, the Secretary directed that the BLM renew its regulatory efforts that they had begun in 1991 to revise the 3809 regulations. The task force held a number of well-attended meetings throughout the West and in Washington, DC, and received over 1,800 written comments. The task force will continue to consider changes to this rule, and will continue to consult with States as a part of that initiative. For example, representatives of this task force will meet with State and State Governors, representatives next week, March 3, in Denver, Colorado, to discuss proposed changes to these rules. I am sure there will be many other things that the Subcommittee would like to talk about, but I will like to submit my written remarks for the record.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Mr. Fry may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CUBIN. Thank you, Mr. Fry.
I will start the questioning. We'll have 5 minutes. OK. Then if the members want further questioning, we'll go a second round.
I'll start my questioning with Mr. Fry. You reported that theIOGor that the States and IOGCC didn't want State delegation, that that's their position. Now, the way Ias I understand it, in fact, as I know, they actually want legislation to be introduced which we're looking at. I think it isn't perfect, and so that's sort of contradictory. So, would it be accurate for me to say that they don't want delegation under the terms that the BLM has presented to them?
Mr. FRY. I think there's two things we're talking about here, Madam Chairman. We have delegation, which they've indicated they don't want, which would mean that the primary responsibility would still be with the Federal Government, and then we would delegate the responsibility to carry out those functions to the States. What some of the States seem to be interested in is not a delegation but a transfer of all of that authority and responsibility to the States and have the Federal Government out of the picture altogether. So that is the distinction that I'm trying to make here, where, under REGO II, the discussion was centered around a delegation. And we've come the conclusion that at least, from a blanket standpoint, the IOGCC has indicated to me that they did not want to have a delegation; that they were interested in a transfer function. And I think that is what the bills that have floated around indicate.
Mrs. CUBIN. Thank you. In March, 1995, President Gore proposed that oil and gas inspection and enforcement on Federal lands be transferred to the States. Since then, I know the BLM has had countless meetings with many people. This Subcommittee has held hearings on the proposal, and I myself, or I find myself in the unusual position of being on the same side as the Vice President, working hard, wanting to see that accomplished. Is BLM committed to transferring certain functions to the States?
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. FRY. Let me assure you that I'm on the same side as the Vice President, too.
Mrs. CUBIN. Always a wise place to be in your position.
Mr. FRY. The difficultyand I have not been a part of those discussions until recently. But my understanding the difficulty has been this whole question of delegation that we spoke about a moment ago. The I and E function that we're talking about certainly could be delegated, and the BLM is more than willing to work on delegation of the I and E function. But there's been a reluctance, from my understanding, on behalf of the IOGCC and the States to take delegation of the I and E function. They would rather take over the entire program, which would take legislation.
Mrs. CUBIN. Well, last February, the States and BLM met in Phoenix to compare their oil and gas regulatory programs. And at that meeting, it was concluded that both the Federal and the State Governments share the same goals, although may wish to accomplish those objectives in different ways. Given those shared objectives, there was discussion, including by this Subcommittee, that the BLM and the States should get together to, at a very minimum, establish uniform standards. Has the BLM initiated any discussions with the States? Or are you interested in undertaking that project?
Mr. FRY. Absolutely. I'm not sure whether specific discussions that you're talking about occurred or did not occur. I've had discussions about the whole question of uniform standards. My concern, I think, is the same one that the Chairman expresses. What I don't like is the situation where you have two pickup trucks show at an oil well. One has BLM on the side, and one has the State of Wyoming on the side; and both are doing the same inspection. And that is not good government, and that's not what I want to see happen. We have seen work in a number of situations where we've allowed the people locally to work together, rather than on some sort of national cram down program. For people who have worked locally together we have divided those responsibilities, but we don't have two pickup trucks showing up because we do have the same shared interest in protecting not only the land, but the resources under the land. So, that is certainly, as you suggest, something that we would like to see and want to continue to work on.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I'm afraid that this issue is one that hasgottenbecome politicized, and we haven't allowed the people on the ground to work it out. We have a number of arrangements in States where it has worked out. We have success stories in California; we have success stories in Colorado. We have MOUs working in other States, and I'm hopeful that we can allow our local managers and local States to work together to try to resolve these issues locally on things that they can decide make sense for them locally, rather than us try to decide that in Washington.
Mrs. CUBIN. You know I completely agree with you. As a general rule in all the work that I've done, I find on the ground the land managers and the decisionmakers who are there dealing with the resource at the point do a good job. They're committed to that. But wouldn't you agree with me that there really is a long way to go; that while there are some successes, we really good improve on this duplication but not quite a lot.
Mrs. FRY. We absolutely can improve.
Mrs. CUBIN. Thank you.
Ms. Green, would you like to question the panel?
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. No questions. Thanks.
Mrs. CUBIN. Mr. Calvert.
Mr. CALVERT. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Ms. Quarterman, I was interested in your testimony. You know, it just seems like yesterday we were here talking about deep water, and I remember some of our colleagues, primarily on the other side, were saying that we werethis was a terrible thing to do when we were putting through the deep water legislation to promote drilling in the Gulf and that we were going to lose all this revenue. Can you explain to us, again, what is happening in the Gulf?
Ms. QUARTERMAN. It's booming.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CALVERT. Have we lost any revenue because of the Deep Water Royalty Fairness legislation we put together?
Ms. QUARTERMAN. Not that I'm aware of. As you recall, the President signed it, the administration supported the bill, and things are going very, very well.
Mr. CALVERT. And again, how much additional money has come in this year partly because of that legislation?
Ms. QUARTERMAN. Well, in the past four salesand those are all sales since the Deep Water Royalty Relief Act as passedthere was about$2.7 billion$2.4 billion as compared to the last four sales before, where there was only $0.7 billion coming in.
Mr. CALVERT. That's quite a difference, isn't it? So you would say that that legislation was a successful piece of legislative art, wouldn't you?
Ms. QUARTERMAN I would have to say it's a success.
Mr. CALVERT. I think it is. But let's move on to how we're doing on transferring some of the obligations over the States as far as collecting royalties. How is that moving along?
Ms. QUARTERMAN. Well, I think that's going along well, as well. If you'll recall in the Royalty Simplification and Fairness Act, the Committee put a 1-year timeframe around coming out with a final rule, which is somewhat unheard of these days in terms of actually having that happen. It was signed in August 1996, which means that we had to have a final rule in August 1997. We got it passed one day early. The final rule passed. We have not, so far, had a State come forward and ask for delegation, but we are ready, willing, and able to comply if they were to ask.
Mr. CALVERT. I ran into a colleague of mine from one of the larger oil-producing states here in the lower 48, and he mentioned to me, and I'm going to follow through on this, that his State has asked and that they have been going through some difficult periods in trying to get this transition together. You never heard any problems with Oklahoma?
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. QUARTERMAN. None whatsoever. I have not heard from Oklahoma at all.
Mr. CALVERT. OK. I'll follow through on that.
Ms. QUARTERMAN. So will I.
Mr. CALVERT. OK.
To the best of our knowledge, the State of Oklahoma has not contacted the Minerals Management Service (MMS) about assuming royalty functions that can be delegated pursuant to the ''Royalty Simplification and Fairness Act.'' In 1996 and 1997, when MMS was developing the regulations to implement the delegation provision, the agency held outreach sessions with interested states, and Oklahoma was represented at those meetings. Mr. Mike Smith, Secretary of Energy for the State of Oklahoma attended a meeting which discussed the framework for the regulation in December 1996; he also attended a meeting in April 1997 to discuss the proposed regulation. He indicated that his plan was to return to the state and determine what interest, if any, it had in delegated activities. However, he has never contacted us, nor has MMS heard from other officials in the state government of Oklahoma.
Mrs. CUBIN. Well, I think I'll just start a second round.
Mr. CALVERT. Go ahead.
Mrs. CUBIN. For director Karpan. My Subcommittee colleague from West Virginia, Mr. Rahall, and I sparred last Congress over my legislative effort to amend SMCRA with respect to Federal enforcement in primacy States. But with respect to the AML side of your agency, I think that we are and always have been pretty agreeable in principle at least that insufficient moneys are being appropriated back out of the trust fund for State reclamation grants. Your testimony noted that the acreage and national inventory of abandoned sites and has an estimated cost for cleanup.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC My question is, how committed is OSM and the Department to making a concerted effort in the fiscal year 2000 budget to convince OMB and the President to back this program more aggressively?
Mr. FRY. Well, I think that I can represent to the Committee that our agency considers the AML program one of the most successful reclamation programs in the history of the world, and we are well aware of the outstanding need. In fact, in some respects, as soon as we reclaim an area, we seem to find other problem areas. So it's a growing problem in some respects.
The requests that we have made, of course, have been made by my predecessors, but I would say they've had to be made within the context of competing considerations in a rather discouraging at times fiscal picture. And I think that any interpretation of what our requests have meant must take that into account.
I can say to you that I know that there is strong support around the country for more spending. Congressman Rahall isn't here to hear me say this, but I know that he has shown leadership in organizing the groups he's mentioned, and I hear everywhere across the country of the need for it. The States have indicated that they can spend the money wisely, that they have their priority 1 and 2 projects in mind. We think they can put that money to good use.
I can't make a commitment in advance of how well I can do, Madam Chairman, but I can tell you, speaking personally, that to the extent that I can as a Director help our agency make the case for AML funding, given all these competing considerations, I will make the case. And I say that as someone who grew up in Rock Springs, Wyoming, who has benefited from $70 million worth of investment to take care of those subsidence problems. So I'll do the best I can.
Mrs. CUBIN. I'm sure that you will, and I realize the constraints of your job, but it is difficult. As last year, I am most likely this year going to push for additional AML funds, but it is difficult, when the President's request is lower, to really get the Appropriations Committee to take us very seriously on this, and certainly the AML trust fund isn't the only trust fund that is in the situation that we have here: social security, highway. It's up to us to work that out, and I certainly hope that we can. I know we can; I hope we will.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC You mentioned, Ms. Karpan, the Clean Streams Initiative as an example of leveraging AML moneysthis was in your written testimonyfor watershed improvements. And I see the budget requests statutory authority to fund both clean streams and western mineland partnership from only the cumulative interest earned on the AML fund, which I support. We in the West are always a little wary when the Department of Interior comes to the western Governors and says, ''We're from the Federal Government. We've come to help.''
Mrs. CUBIN. But I trust the $100,000 you seek for the beginning of the latter initiative is for joint study purposes with the WGA; is that correct?
Ms. KARPAN. Yes, Madam Chair. In fact, really this is not so much at our own instance as a response to two different initiatives. One is from the western Governors and NMA. We're aware of their discussions about reclamation needs, and then we have our own Federal Government team with western Governors talking about the Federal land initiative. As part of that, there's been the identification of some private in-holdings in Federal lands that might require reclamation.
What I would like to sayand I probably as keenly as anyone at this table understand the view in the West about the Federal Government's role. So I'd hasten to make a couple of points. The first is, our interest is in reclamation, and not regulationreclamation, not regulation; that we see this $100,000 as serving several functions. One, it's an expression of support and encouragement to the western Governors to deal with the problem. We feel that we have some benefits of experience that we might be able to share with them. We have technical assistance, our TIPS program; for example, that wonderful software we could make available to them for free.
What we basically see is this being money to supplement a project that would either be ongoing or is contemplated so that someone else is driving that decision. Like clean streams, we're just helping make it happen.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CUBIN. Thank you.
Mr. Calvert, did you have any followup questions?
Mr. CALVERT. I have no further questions.
Mrs. CUBIN. Then it's my turn again.
Mrs. CUBIN. These questions are for Ms. Quarterman. And you are aware of my strong feelings in finding ways to efficiently collect royalties that are owed. Again, I want to make it clear that I think we should collect every cent that is legitimately owed, and that the producers should pay every cent that is legitimately owed to the Federal treasury and obviously the States, too.
I promise that we are going to have the opportunity to discuss legislative language for royalty in-kind, but since you brought that upand we're not going to get into it in detail today at all, but there were a couple of things that I wanted to touch on, based on the budget request.
Your request for $5 million to increaseor the $5 million increase for the royalty management program's computer system, it seems to me to beg the question of what sort of modernization needs will be appropriate next year or just a few years down the road, since wewell, even say, for example, the proposed crude oil valuation rule were to become final rule later this year. Wouldn't you need to modify that system to track the different benchmarks, and so on? I mean, won't there have to be a lot of changes in that, which will be expensive?
Ms. QUARTERMAN. The re-engineering that we're performing in the royalty management program is more than just a computer system. We have, in terms of hardware, up-to-date hardware for our computer system. What we're speaking about now is the software program and the processes upon which the software relies. We have over the past year begun to, and have met, all of the processes within the royalty management program in terms of how things work and/or don't work, and have begun to completely reform that.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One of the considerations that we have is the ability not only to take royalty in-value, but to take it in-kind. We have to have a system that is able to adapt to any sort of valuation system going forward. All of those things are part of our equation in the new system and process that we will put in place. It is not merely something that can't be changed.
Mrs. CUBIN. Does the fiscal year 1999 request factor the royalty in-value regulation changes that might occur without knowing how the comments might affect the proposal?
Ms. QUARTERMAN. Yes. Again, we're talking about really the process of the way we collect royalties, not so much the value. The re-engineering will be able to
Mrs. CUBIN. Would you tell me what you mean by process
Ms. QUARTERMAN. OK.
Mrs. CUBIN. [continuing] because I'm sure you're being clear. I'm just not catching it exactly.
Ms. QUARTERMAN. Over the past 15 years, the royalty management program has been really created and recreated due to changes in the marketplace, customer demands. We started out with a software system about 16 years ago that was put into place that is really a functional-based system. It's almost like an assembly line, if you can imagine one transaction coming in on lease and one person working with it, then handing it off to the next person, and a series of people along the lines; maybe five or six different parts of the organization deal with the same transaction.
The re-engineer process that we're looking at now will be one that is completely process-centered. So you would look at a piece of land, a particular lease, and follow that transaction; the same group of people would follow the transaction from beginning to end, so that you won't have continual contacts along the way. That requires us to change the way our software runs. Right now we have a large mainframe that's operated by contractors that requires 24-hour people on duty. In order to change one little thing, it takes a week to do in terms of changing the software. Because it's so cumbersome, we have probably 100 different, what we call, workarounds or PC software programs that feed back into the main program. It's, frankly, given the amount of money that we collect, not as good as it should be. That's why we see a need for reform. Even if we would go into a royalty in-kind program, we would still have a number of things remaining on the table that would have to be collectedall Indian tribes, all solid minerals, any remaining oil and gas that were collected in value.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CUBIN. That clarifies it very well. Thank you.
I know my time's up, but I'm sure that Mr. Calvert doesn't mind if I just take a couple more minutes.
MMS currently receives considerable royalties in-kind as part of a special setaside program for eligible small refiners. In 1996, some 38 percent of total oil royalties were paid in kind. It seems that MMS already has considerable experience with collecting royalties in-kind. So I wonder, while I appreciate the offer of the royalty in-kind pilot program for Wyoming, I wonder why our additional pilot programs need it, considering the extent of experience that you already have in that?
Ms. QUARTERMAN. The royalty in-kind program that is currently operating is entirely different from the kind of royalty in-kind program that we are considering. The small refiner royalty in-kind program, as we call it, is meant to assist those small, independent refiners who cannot receive oil from another place. The Federal Government in legislation has determined that it's appropriate toit's a governmental benefit to help those folks have oil available to them at reasonable prices. That is entirely different from the royalty in-kind pilots that we are considering, in which case the Federal Government would try to market the oil or gas itself to receive the same amount in value.
Mrs. CUBIN. Could I interrupt for just one second? How is it different, No. 1, and then, No. 2, while the Federal Government certainly could be the marketer, I think under all the proposals that I've seen the government would or the Secretary would be able to identify or hire other professional marketers. So would you respond to that?
Ms. QUARTERMAN. When I say ''market it,'' I was speaking more broadly in terms of not only the government perhaps itself marketing, but hiring someone to market on their behalf.
Mrs. CUBIN. OK, could you just, then, tell me, as specifically as you can, how the royalty in-kind program that you have, that we have with the small refiners, is so different or is different from what is being proposed? Because, as I said, 38 percent in, I think, 1996, 38 percent of the royalties paid were from royalty in-kind. So what are the specific differences?
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. QUARTERMAN. Well, perhaps if I give you a comparison of our 1995 pilot, we took 8 percent of the Federal Government's share of gas in-kind offshore. In that pilot, we hired a marketer or a series of marketers, in that we accepted gas in-kind, and then we put it up for bid for marketers to purchase it. They, at that point, gave us plus or minus an index price for the gas. In the proposed pilots that we have planned for the next few years, in the gas marketing example, we would propose to hire a marketer who would work on our own behalf, and perhaps instead of just selling at the lease, could take the gas and market it upstream to a power company or something like that. In the royalty in-king oil program, as I said, the oil producers accept the oil and use it in their own refinery.
Mrs. CUBIN. And I do understand the program. I really don't understandI really can't see that there's all that much difference, but, yes, we'll do that another day.
Ms. QUARTERMAN. OK.
Mrs. CUBIN. I do have other questions, but I'm not going to hold everyone here to do that. So I would ask, if we submit our questions in writing to you, if you would respond to them in a reasonable amount of time; we would appreciate that very much.
[The information referred to may be found at end of hearing.]
Mrs. CUBIN. And I would like to thank the witnesses for being here. It truly is beneficial and helps with understanding.
Please feel free any time to contact Committee staff, me, my staff, whatever.
Thank you very much for being here today.
[Whereupon, at 3:03 p.m., the Subcommittee adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.]
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [Additional material submitted for the record follows.]
STATEMENT OF TOM FRY, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Madam Chairman, members the Subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to provide an overview of the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM's) budget priorities for its minerals programs. Our projects and initiatives reflect our commitment to a collaborative approach to managing our public lands.
The President's fiscal year 1999 budget proposes $1,233,659,000 for the BLM. This level of funding includes moneys for operation of the Bureau, Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), and firefighting activities and central hazardous materials management for the entire Department. Of the $660,310,000 requested for management of lands and resources, $71,646,000 is for energy and minerals activities and $33,272,000 is intended as a one-time appropriation for mining law administration. Of the amount requested for energy and minerals, $53,470,000 is for oil and gas management, $7,151,000 is for coal management, $8,943,000 is for management of other minerals such as geothermal, potassium, phosphate, and sodium, sand, gravel, and building stone, and $2,082,000 is for Alaska minerals.
Energy and mineral resources generate the highest commercial economic production values of uses of the public lands. Of the total $1.2 billion in revenues generated on BLM lands in 1997, energy and mineral development on public lands accounted for nearly $1 billion through royalties, rents, bonuses, sales and fees.
The public lands produce 33 percent of the Nation's coal, 10 percent of its natural gas, and 5 percent of its oil. At the end of 1997, more than 46,000 leases existed on Federal lands covering about 37 million acres. About 20,000 of those leases were in producing status with more than 63,000 producing wells on public lands. This figure is up nearly 30 percent since 1985, while natural gas production has increased by 60 percent over the past 10 years. The BLM is also responsible for operational management oversight of about 3,750 producing leases on Indian lands, supervision of drilling on non-producing leases, and advising BIA, Indian tribes, and allottees on leasing matters.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The onshore oil and gas program is one of the major mineral leasing programs in the Department of the Interior. It generates receipts from filing fees, bonuses, rents, and royalty payments. In 1998, we expect such royalties to exceed $785,000,000. All receipts, except for filing fees, are shared with the State in which the leasing occurs. These oil and gas revenues play an important role in the economies of many western States and communities.
Our leasing program will continue to be focused in those areas where the prospect for discovery is highest. A significant aspect of the BLM's strategic plan is to provide opportunities for commercial production from public lands, especially energy and minerals, in an environmentally sound and responsible manner. The BLM will continue to focus on programs and activities that best serve the public interest while maintaining a balanced approach to the management of the public lands. These areas include:
Renewed Emphasis on Production Verification
Production verification is one of the BLM's top goals. As a part of this effort, we will rely on our existing records to improve our verification of production for fluid and solid minerals. This will not be an intrusive initiative, but an internal housekeeping matter and will increase the return of revenues to the Treasury through additional emphasis on record and field inspections. As with our coal verification program, we will work to improve our other minerals programs to better serve industry and meet our responsibility to the taxpayer.
Automated Land and Mineral Resources System (ALMRS)
Completing Release 1 of our ALMRS deployment remains one of the highest priorities for the BLM. ALMRS will link legal land descriptions, geographic coordinates, land and mineral ownership, and resource data in a single data base to provide a complete picture of current use of the public lands and availability for future use. We anticipate a direct benefit to our lessees and permittees because it will provide mineral and realty operators with immediate access to information that affects their businesses.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Status of REGO II I&E
As I am sure you are aware, the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act (FOGRMA) provides that states may submit proposals at any time to assume responsibility for Federal inspection and enforcement (I & E) activities. We will continue to work with States that may have an interest in taking on these functions in the future. The REGO II initiative helped the BLM to identify ways we could work with the States more closely to achieve greater efficiency and realize cost savings. For example, we have established MOUs under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act with states such as California and Colorado to perform various oil and gas functions. Further, the BLM continues to hold discussions with the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission to determine the feasibility of any further transfer efforts.
Under the Green River Basin Advisory Committee's (GRBAC's) ecoroyalty relief proposal, the nominal 12.5 percent royalty would be reduced by 1-2 percent in return for extra efforts by operators to improve the environment. Department of the Interior Solicitor John Leshy has testified before this Subcommittee that the Secretary of the Interior has no authority under current law to grant ecoroyalty relief under the circumstances proposed by the GRBAC. However, the BLM is pursuing other options to provide incentives for operators to ensure their production activities are as environmentally responsible as possible. We will continue our work with industry and other interested parties to explore alternatives which will benefit operators as well as the Federal Government.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCStripper Well Royalty Rate Reduction
Earlier this month, the BLM announced that it would extend its royalty rate reduction for Federal ''stripper'' (wells which produce an average of less than 15 barrels of oil per day) oil properties.
The royalty rate reduction has proven itself since 1992, when the agency put the rule into effect. Given the recent dramatic downturn in oil prices, continuing this royalty rate reduction will keep many stripper oil wells producing that might otherwise be shut in. The rule establishes the conditions under which an operator or owner of Federal stripper oil property can obtain a reduction from the normal royalty rate of 12.5 percent. The regulations provide an incentive for operators to maintain or restart production of marginal or uneconomic wells. The goal is to increase recoverable reserves. After conducting a review of the rule's impact the Department and the BLM have concluded that the lower royalty rate for stripper properties is working as intended.
Mining Law Administration
This year's budget includes a one-time appropriation to support a legislative proposal to permanently authorize collection of mining claim maintenance and location fees. Since 1993, the BLM has collected a mining claim maintenance fee of $100 and a claim location fee of $25 to offset the cost of the mining law program. Authority to collect these fees expires in September, 1998. The budget proposal would permanently extend the collection of the mining claim maintenance and location fees and will periodically adjust these fees for inflation. In 1999, collection of the mining claim maintenance fee is set at $116 and the location fee at $29. The fees would then be available to the BLM in 2000 to manage the mining law program. As previously mentioned, this requires a one-time appropriation of $33,272,000 to manage the program in 1999.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In January 1997, the Secretary directed the BLM to renew a regulatory effort begun in 1991 to revise the Surface Management regulations (43 CFR 3809) for 1872 Mining Law activities on public lands. The task force held a number of well-attended scoping meetings throughout the West and in Washington, DC. In addition, BLM received over 1,800 written comments. The BLM has consulted with the state governments on this matter and, in accordance with the 1998 Interior Appropriations Act, the proposed rules will be published after November 15, 1998. The 3809 Task Force is continuing to consider changes to the rule and will continue to consult with the States as part of that initiative. For example, representatives of the Task Force will meet with State and Governors' representatives on March 3, 1998, in Denver, Colorado to discuss proposed changes to the rules.
We will continue to work with members of the Subcommittee, the public, and industry to improve the BLM's minerals programs. This concludes my statement and I am pleased to respond to any questions you may have.
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