Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) today announced that, at their request, the Department of Interior will be distributing approximately $18 million to Garfield, Rio Blanco, Moffat, and Mesa Counties.
The long overdue funding is from the gas and oil lease revenues that were collected through 2008 to clean up the former Anvil Points federal oil shale research site. This money allocated today is excess funding that was never needed for cleanup purposes and was not returned to the local communities.
"Colorado communities waited far too long for the government to release these revenues, and we are glad they will finally receive what is rightfully theirs," Bennet said. "I've been working toward this outcome since arriving in the Senate in 2009. Now that Secretary Zinke said ‘the check is in the mail,' millions of dollars can be put to use by communities on the Western Slope."
"Today's announcement is great news for Western Colorado," Gardner said. "Since his confirmation process, I've worked closely with Secretary Zinke urging Interior to release the funding, and I appreciate the Secretary and the department for coming through with what will be millions of dollars for these Colorado communities. This is their money - not the federal government's, and each county can now use this funding for how they think is best for their region."
"I have worked for several years to ensure that royalty payments from the Anvil Points oil shale and research facility are returned to Northwest Colorado," Tipton said. "Secretary Zinke's announcement during today's Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing signals the end to a very long process, and I could not be more thrilled. This money rightfully belongs to Northwest Colorado, and I am thankful for Secretary Zinke and Deputy Secretary Bernhardt's leadership on this matter. I look forward to seeing the state disperse the funds to Garfield, Mesa, Moffat and Rio Blanco Counties, so local leaders can dedicate resources to enhancing their communities and improving the lives of all who live there."
"The people of Colorado have waited far too long for this payment," Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said. "On behalf of the Department and the Administration, we look forward to working with you in the future to continue delivering results to the people of Colorado."
For years, Gardner, Bennet, and Tipton have worked to return the oil and gas lease revenues to Northwest Colorado. Most recently, they introduced an amendment in 2016 that would have forced the federal government to return the revenues. In 2017, Gardner and Bennet sent letters to Secretary Zinke urging him to pursue an administrative solution to provide the revenues.