ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque has a front row seat this week in a national debate over government royalties generated by mineral extraction on federal lands.
The federal Royalty Policy Committee, which advises the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, will meet here Wednesday in one of only three national meetings in the country. The recommendations that emerge from the gathering could lead to major changes in federal policy and the amount of revenue collected from mining activities.
New Mexico has an outsized stake in the debate as the second-largest state recipient of energy-related royalties after Wyoming, said Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller in a press conference with Attorney General Hector Balderas Monday morning.
“We must fight to receive a fair value for every resource mined on our land,” Keller said.
National environmental and consumer advocacy organizations joined Keller and Balderas in an effort to raise public awareness about the committee. Those groups say the committee, which U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke re-chartered last fall for the first time since former President Barack Obama’s first term in office, is stacked with industry representatives and few, if any, authentic public interest groups.
The group’s subcommittees have held dozens of meetings since October behind closed doors, said Wilderness Society Senior Energy Advisor Pam Eaton.
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