By Peter O'Dowd
Laramie, WY – Senator John Barrasso says he's worried Wyoming will not receive the 550-million dollars the federal government owes the state in Abandoned Mine Land funds.
Barrasso voted against the nomination this week of a man named Brent Whalquist, who is being considered to head the federal government's surface mining reclamation program. Barrasso says Whalquist avoided direct questions when the senator asked him about the half billion dollars the government owes Wyoming.
"I submitted questions in writing and the answers did not satisfy me," Barrasso says. "No where did he say, Wyoming will get its money."
The senator says the foot-dragging is no surprise.
"It's 500 million dollars. It belongs to Wyoming and it's my opinion they don't want to let it go, and that's what I'm here fighting for."
The first payments are due in October, and Barrasso says the feds are considering giving the money in grants, which means Wyoming would ask for reimbursements instead of just receiving a check. Barrasso says the law is clear: The half a billion dollars does NOT belong to federal government.