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Administrative Appeals of Minerals Management Service Orders Involving Royalties on Federal and Indian Lands

Hugh V. Schaefer, Hugh E. Hilliard, Federal and Indian Oil & Gas Royalty Valuation and Management II (1998)

Since the passage of Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 (MLA), the Department of the Interior has been responsible for collecting royalties and related payments on Federal and Indian Mineral leases.1 In 1982, the Secretary of the Interior established the Minerals Management Service (MMS) and transferred the royalty collection function to it.2

Prior to 1942, the regulations of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) provided that its royalty payment demands were appealable to the Secretary.3 In 1942, the USGS revised its regulations, and specified that royalty issues would be appealable first to the Director, and that decisions made by the Director would be appealable to the Secretary.4

Decisions on appeals to the Secretary (either as a first level review or after an intermediate decision by the USGS Director) were signed by the Secretary or the Assistant Secretary responsible for the function. In 1947, the Secretary delegated this authority to the [13-2] Office of the Solicitor. The Solicitor or an Assistant Solicitor would then sign final decisions for the Department.5

Both within the bureaus, at the first level of review, and in the Solicitor's office, at the second level of review, there was some, but not an absolute, division between: (1) the people responsible for taking actions in the first place, (2) those responsible for justifying those actions upon appe