WY lawmakers concerned that budget agreement reduces money for mineral development

Dec 16, 2013

Wyoming lawmakers are concerned with a provision in the bipartisan budget agreement that would cost the state money for mineral development.

Wyoming stands to lose around twenty million dollars annually from the budget deal that overwhelmingly passed the House. It includes a provision that makes permanent a law that charges states like Wyoming for costs associated with their mineral leases. The state hasn’t received that money since 2008, but Republican Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis and other officials thought that was just temporary. 

“So we always held out the hope that we would get it back. Now we won’t,” says Lummis.

Lummis and a bipartisan group of 93 other lawmakers opposed the deal. She had other problems with the agreement that puts sequestration on hold for the next two years, but she says the mineral policy is an affront to the state.

“If we knew it was being spent to advance Wyoming’s federal leasing interests that would be one thing,” says Lummis. “It’s not. It’s just being used as a budget gimmick to allow appropriators to spend more money on other things.”

The legislation is now on its way to the Senate where many lawmakers are voicing frustration over the proposal, which means it still has to overcome a big hurdle before it can get to the president.