Wyoming to get $550 million for abandoned mine lands
Feds owed Wyoming the money in Abandoned Mine Land Trust fund for decades
December 21, 2006
Wyoming will soon finally be receiving their share of money deposited in the Abandoned Mine Trust Fund. President Bush signed the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Trust Fund Reauthorization bill on Wednesday, December 20th, as part of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, which included a reauthorization bill of the mine lands fund.
U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming said this "makes the payback official."
Wyoming was supposed to receive their half-share portion of fees collected from every ton of coal extracted from Wyoming for abandoned mine lands, a fee assessed since 1977. The other half goes to the federal Abandoned Mine Lands program to reclaim old mining sites. Wyoming has never received its promised funding from the federal government.
Beginning next October, the $550 million will be paid back in seven installments.
The AML legislation ensures Wyoming and other coal states receive money the federal government has owed for decades. The $550 million will be disbursed to the Wyoming legislature through the Office of Surface Mining. In addition to the money owed previously, Wyoming will receive the full yearly amount owed to the state because of the collection of the AML fee on each ton of coal mined in Wyoming. This is estimated to be more than $60 million every year.
"I'm delighted that President Bush signed this important legislation,” said Enzi. “This bill gives back to Wyoming what we have been promised for years. It took decades of struggle, but through this legislation we were actually able to go in and take our money back from the lion’s den," he said. "Another benefit of receiving this money is that it can be used at the state’s discretion. We won’t need approval for how Wyoming spends this money and we shouldn’t."
The bill also allows Wyoming residents to deduct state and local general sales taxes on their federal tax returns for an additional two years. "Both of the AML reauthorization and the state sales tax deduction are huge for the people of Wyoming," Enzi said.
Go slow on abandoned mine money By Joan Barron (12/15/06, Casper Star-Tribune)
2003 Annual Evaluation Summary Report Department of Interior, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program – Wyoming
Abandoned Mine Reclamation US Code, US Government Printing Office document access