Royalty reform in court

The contentious American issue of federal-royalty reform now heads for the courts.Too bad. It didn't have to reach this point. The Minerals Management Service might have shown serious regard for concerns expressed by the oil and gas industry early in the controversy. In fact, that's how MMS usually operates.But not this time. MMS started by proposing a regulatory monstrosity and has been grudgingly splitting differences ever since. Its final rules, issued Mar. 15, show great improvement from the January 1997 proposal calling on all producers to use futures prices to determine oil values in royalty calculations. But they still, because MMS wouldn't retreat from its insistence o...

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