During tonight’s Congressional debate, Democrat Chris Henrichsen attacked Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis for losing hundreds of millions of dollars of Abandoned Mine Lands money that were destined for Wyoming.
Coal-producing states receive AML funds in order to pay for mine reclamation, but Wyoming used a portion of the money for buildings, infrastructure and other projects. This fall, Congress voted to severely limit the amount the Cowboy State gets.
Henrichsen says Lummis failed in her duties because she failed to stop the measure.
Top Wyoming officials say congressional action to block about $700 million in federal Abandoned Mine Land payments to the state over the next 10 years threatens to be devastating to the state budget.
Gov. Matt Mead and Sen. Phil Nicholas, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee in the Wyoming Legislature, say the loss will leave the state hard-pressed to continue to pay for coal research and other programs it has covered with the AML dollars.
Wyoming leaders are shell-shocked after learning that Congress has arranged to take hundreds of millions of dollars money from the Abandoned Mine Lands program to fund a federal transportation bill.
Wyoming coal producers have paid $2.9 billion into the program, and the state was guaranteed $1.9 billion back for reclamation efforts. The cut would reduce Wyoming’s share by about 700 million dollars over the next decade. That money is used for a variety of projects.