Burgum applauds Zinke’s appointment of Sanford and Helms to Royalty Policy Committee

Friday, September 1, 2017 - 4:30pm

BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum applauded today’s announcement by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to appoint Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford and North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms to the Department of the Interior’s Royalty Policy Committee.

The committee, which meets for the first time on Oct. 4, will advise Zinke on policy and strategies to improve management of Interior’s federal and American Indian mineral revenue program.

“As a national energy leader, North Dakota is fortunate to have two members appointed to this committee, and we couldn’t ask for two people better suited for the role,” Burgum said. “North Dakota and the entire nation will gain from Secretary Zinke choosing Lt. Gov. Sanford and Director Helms to help find ways to improve the mineral leasing process and reduce delays that prevent taxpayers and tribes from enjoying the full benefits of minerals on public lands. Brent’s first-hand experience as a leader in western North Dakota oil country and Lynn’s vast expertise in energy development and regulation are a valuable asset to our state, and now to the federal government as well.”

Sanford, who previously served as mayor of Watford City, spoke directly with Zinke in June during a White House summit on infrastructure, advocating for shorter permitting periods for oil and gas wells on federal lands.

“We’re grateful North Dakota has a seat at the table to help shape future policy for federal natural resources management,” Sanford said. “In North Dakota, we have long known the stark difference in process and timeline between development of resources on federal and tribal lands compared to private lands. More rules and longer timelines don’t necessarily equate to better stewardship, let alone revenue realization. We believe this committee can provide valuable insight to help modernize our public resources management with a common-sense approach.”

State law requires that mineral royalties and leasing fees generated from federal lands be shared equally between the state and the county in which the revenue was generated. The state’s general fund received $29 million from mineral royalties and leasing fees on federal lands during the two-year budget cycle that ended June 30, and the oil-producing counties received the same amount.

“This committee is a great opportunity to maximize the value of federal royalties for North Dakota citizens. North Dakota has a long history of oil, natural gas and coal production from federal lands, and royalties from those lands are a large part of revenue returned to the state, counties and tribes,” Helms said. “It’s great to have Secretary Zinke recognize the important role North Dakota plays and the value our state can bring to the discussion. It really demonstrates this administration’s desire to work with the states and to hear what the states have to say about federal policy and federal rules.”