GRAND JUNCTION – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has issued a final rule, effective October 1, 2020, which updates the cost recovery fees that the BLM charges for processing certain actions undertaken by its mineral programs. Specifically, this final rule updates the fees charged to recover costs incurred in processing certain documents associated with oil, gas, coal, and solid mineral activities on public lands, including fees associated with mineral patent adjudications. Consistent with updates to the fee schedules in prior years, this final rule increases the fee schedule based on inflation.
The BLM is authorized to charge cost recovery fees under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 and the 2005 Cost Recovery Rule. The fee schedule is adjusted annually based on the change in the Implicit Price Deflator for Gross Domestic Product from the fourth quarter of one calendar year to the fourth quarter of the following calendar year. The Implicit Price Deflator for Gross Domestic Product is published annually by the Department of Commerce.
Under this rule, 30 fees will remain the same and 18 fees will increase. This is due to a rounding procedure which eases implementation. Of the 18 fees that are being increased by this rule, 11 will increase by $5 each, and five will increase by $10 each. The largest increase, $50, will be applied to the fee for adjudicating a mineral patent application containing more than 10 claims, which will increase from $3,290 to $3,340. The fee for adjudicating a patent application containing 10 or fewer claims will increase by $25, from $1,645 to $1,670.
It is important to note that the “real” values of the fees are not actually increasing, since real values account for the effect of inflation. In real terms, the values of the fees are simply being adjusted to account for the changes in the prices of goods and services produced in the United States.
The updated fees are based on a common mathematical formula used by businesses nationwide to adjust their expenses. This fee update rule uses the change in the Implicit Price Deflator for Gross Domestic Product from the fourth quarter of 2018 to the fourth quarter of 2019, which reflects the rate of inflation over four calendar quarters.