Office of Natural Resources Revenue

The federal government is trying to create a better system for pricing oil and gas on Indian reservations. The Office of Natural Resource Revenue brought together government, tribes and the energy industry to write the new rule. 

Claire Ware is the Director of the Shoshone-Arapahoe Tribes Minerals Compliance Program and sat on the committee.  She says the old rules put tribes at a disadvantage.   

The federal government will pay back mineral royalties that it withheld from states under the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration.

When sequestration went into effect earlier this year, the Department of the Interior started withholding 5 percent of states' share of the royalties, which are paid on resources like coal and oil extracted from federal lands. For Wyoming, that's amounted to more than $40 million.

On Monday, DOI announced that after a legal review, it's giving the money back.


The Office of Natural Resources Revenue – or ONRR – saw a $1 billion increase in revenue from energy production on public lands. Wyoming’s share was more than $995 million – up from last year by more than $23 million.

With a growing quantity of coal being exported abroad, there’s some concern that companies are paying royalties using low, domestic rates for exports instead of the higher price sales abroad fetch to calculate their due share. ONRR spokesman Patrick Etchart says the agency audits companies, though not every year.