Rep. Heller Urges House To Restore Geothermal Royalties To Local Counties

Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., today urged his colleagues to ensure that any Continuing Resolutions passed by the House include provisions to restore geothermal royalties to local counties.

The Office of Management and Budget has determined that under current funding legislation, local counties can no longer receive their share of geothermal royalties established under the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

In a letter to House leaders, Heller said counties were stripped of their 25 percent of the geothermal royalties because of a provision “hidden” in Section 423 of the fiscal year 2010 Interior Appropriations legislation.

“This section robbed counties of their 25 percent share, which they depend upon to provide services,” Heller said in his letter. “To correct this, the Nevada delegation and others successfully worked to retroactively repeal the provision that stripped counties of this vital revenue as part of the Supplemental Appropriations Act.”

Because the current Continuing Resolution for FY 2011 refers to the FY 2010 Appropriations Act for Interior, Environment and Related Agencies and not the Supplemental Appropriations Act however, counties are again going without revenue sharing, Heller said.

This problem needs to be addressed in the upcoming Continuing Resolution and/or any other longer term funding bills, he said.

“Some of our western counties have as little as 2 percent taxable land base, and geothermal revenue sharing provides a funding stream that allowed communities to fund vital services such as law enforcement, emergency health care and search and rescue,” Heller said. “The repeal of geothermal revenue sharing is yet another problem for our public lands communities who bear the unique burdens of high federal land ownership. During these difficult economic times, the addition of this language, which has already been approved once by the House, is vital.

“Again, I strongly urge you to include language related to geothermal revenue sharing in the final version of the continuing resolution that the House will consider this week,” Heller concluded.