Western lawmakers push to restore mineral funds

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Associated Press

Posted on May 14, 2013 at 6:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 15 at 2:01 AM

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A bipartisan group of western lawmakers are pushing legislation in Washington to restore cuts of $110 million in federal mineral royalty payments to 35 states.

Senators from New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah and Idaho have signed onto legislation that Sen. Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, introduced Tuesday.

A similar bill was introduced in the House by Wyoming Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis.

The legislation would allow states to collect royalty payments directly from companies that produce minerals from federal lands while placing the proceeds are off-limits to federal budget cuts.

Wyoming is the nation's largest coal-producing state and stands to lose more than $50 million in this year's cuts. New Mexico would lose $26 million.

Federal officials say they have no choice about the cuts under the federal budget reduction law.

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