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Western Senators Seek To Restore Minerals Payments

Republican Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, of Wyoming, said Tuesday they're working on the legislation.

Wyoming's congressional delegation is still stinging from separate congressional action late last year that cut more than $700 million that had been promised to the state for mine land restoration.

Daniel Head, a spokesman for Enzi, said the bill to restore the mineral leasing payments will likely be introduced this week.

"The federal government took money that doesn't belong to it and used the sequester as an excuse," Head said. "States are guaranteed a share of the billions of dollars in revenue generated from energy production on federal lands, as they bear most of the costs associated with mineral development. The federal government should be cutting its own budget instead of taking money owed to the states."

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said recently that he had asked the state's attorney general to review the cuts in mineral revenue payments to see if there was any avenue for a legal challenge, but the attorney general's office concluded there was not.

On Tuesday, the Republican governor said Wyoming's congressional delegation has done an excellent job addressing federal mineral royalties.

"Our delegation and my office have been working with U.S. and state lawmakers from similarly impacted states," Mead said. "I am encouraged to see support from other states on this important issue."

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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