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The Latest US panel weighs gas royalties from public land

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — The Latest on royalties paid by U.S. energy firms for extracting gas from public land (all times local):

1:10 p.m.

Environmentalists and other advocates are urging a Trump administration advisory committee to reject two proposed changes to oil and gas drilling on public land, saying they could short-change taxpayers and turn over too much power to the industry.

Others who spoke to the Interior Department’s Royalty Policy Committee on Thursday accused the panel of being dominated by industry representatives and putting corporate interests ahead of the public good.

Committee members didn’t directly respond to the criticism, but Interior Department spokeswoman Faith Vander Voort has defended the panel’s makeup as balanced.

The committee is meeting in suburban Denver.

Later Thursday, the panel will consider a change in the way energy companies calculate how much money they owe for extracting natural gas from public lands and a proposal to speed up the process for getting drilling permits.

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7:25 a.m.

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 ensuring taxpayers get fair prices.

Supporters say changing royalty payments calculations would standardize and simplify the process.

Opponents say a loophole in the proposal could let energy companies decide how much to pay, and the public could get short-changed.

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