July 12, 2012
Congressional delegation uncovers new information in effort to restore funds
Although Wyoming is taking the biggest financial hit from a recent Congressional raid on the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) trust fund, more than 20 other states are likely to lose money, according to Wyoming’s Congressional delegation.
Wyoming Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso and Representative Cynthia Lummis hope that this overlooked information will help them in their efforts to restore Wyoming’s AML funding.
“We’ve analyzed the AML program and this new law. We believe the $15 million cap built into the new law will harm nearly every coal-producing state. Initial estimates predict this provision is going to cost at least 20 other states $550 million, and perhaps significantly more over the next 10 years,” the delegation said. “This is what happens when legislating is done by a few in the middle of the night. We hope this new information will help us convince our colleagues in both the Senate and House to fix this. This kind of bad accounting and last-minute legislating hurts more than just Wyoming – it slows important clean-up efforts in Appalachia and the Midwest.”
Wyoming is set to lose more than $700 million over 10 years from the AML trust fund because Congressional leaders who finalized a conglomeration flood insurance/discount student loan interest rate/transportation bill used Wyoming AML trust fund money to pay for new programs in the legislation. The bill limited total annual AML payments to certified states or Indian tribes to no more than $15 million. Most of the AML money comes from a tax on coal mined in Wyoming.
In 2011, Wyoming paid into the AML fund more than every other state combined. However, according to the Interstate Mining Compact Commission, funding not paid to Wyoming will also have to be forfeited by uncertified coal-producing states. Examples of these states and how much they stand to lose as a result of the Transportation bill are Pennsylvania ($178 million), West Virginia ($102 million), Illinois ($55 million), Kentucky ($54 million), Ohio ($34 million), Indiana ($18 million), Virginia ($16 million) and Alabama ($15 million). At least 13 other states will also be affected by a loss of nearly $50 million.
“Given the complexity of this seemingly ‘simple’ amendment…our analysis of impact continues,” the commission wrote in a letter to the delegation. “…it is clear that this amendment upsets the balance of interests and the delicate compromise that was struck in 2006 to extend the life of the AML program. As a result, it will cost the nation significant AML reclamation work and valuable jobs associated with it. The amendment also sets a pernicious precedent of future raids of the AML Trust Fund…”