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Group says US energy panel stacked with industry supporters

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Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A conservation group claims a Trump administration committee reviewing royalty payments on fossil fuels from public lands is stacked with industry supporters who conduct some meetings in secret.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Montana, the Western Organization of Resource Council asked a federal judge to disband the Royalty Policy Committee and strike down its recommendations.

The panel was established last year by U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. It's supposed to find ways to change rules that could slow drilling and mining, while making sure taxpayers aren't shortchanged by energy companies.

The lawsuit claims the committee is instead making one-sided recommendations that favor industry and weaken environmental protections.

Zinke spokeswoman Heather Swift says it's inaccurate to suggest the committee is industry dominated. It includes renewable energy and state government representatives.

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