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US panel weighs change on royalties for gas from public land

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — A Trump administration committee is meeting in Colorado to consider a change in the way energy companies calculate how much money they owe for extracting and selling publicly owned natural gas.

The U.S. Interior Department’s Royalty Policy Committee will meet in suburban Denver Thursday.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke formed the panel to recommend ways to remove barriers to getting coal, oil and gas from public land while making sure taxpayers get a fair price.

Supporters say changing the way royalty payments are calculated would standardize and simplify the process. Opponents say a loophole in the proposal could let energy companies decide for themselves how much to pay, and the public could get short-changed.

The committee will also consider a proposal to speed up the process for getting permits to drill on public land.