Ala., Louisiana suing feds over drilling royalties
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - A federal judge has combined lawsuits brought by two Gulf Coast states against the federal government over millions in offshore drilling royalties.
Alabama's suit says $7.5 million is at stake and Louisiana's says $2.8 million. U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton in Washington combined the two suits last month.
Alabama and Louisiana filed separate suits against the U.S. Department of Interior after the agency said it had miscalculated how much it paid the two states from oil and natural gas wells drilled in Gulf waters and it demanded repayment of some of the money paid annually since 1986.
The states accuse the department of not following federal law when it changed the boundaries it uses to calculate payments to Gulf Coast states, and asked the judge to block the change.
The Department of Interior denied the two states' allegations and asked to have the suits dismissed.