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Washington, D.C. – Wyoming received its first Abandoned Mine Land grant payment last month and the state is now one step closer to getting its future AML money in direct payments instead of grants. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed the bill today and it is ready to go to the Senate floor for full consideration. The bill is authored by U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and co-sponsored by U.S. Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo.

“I am pleased that states are receiving more money than ever before through the AML fund, but the process used to distribute the money needs to be improved. States should not be forced to ask the federal government for the money that is owed to them because of a misinterpretation of the law. This bill will fix the federal confusion and allow the money to be distributed with no strings attached,” said Enzi.

“This is a big step in the process to ensure Wyoming receives its rightful share of historic payments with no strings attached.”  Barrasso added, “A troubling bureaucratic interpretation by the current Administration has defined this issue as a fight between federal and state control over Wyoming’s money.  Committee passage of this bipartisan technical correction is a heartening achievement.”

The language of the bill, S. 2448, states ‘all payments of this subsection to a certified State or Indian tribe shall be distributed as direct transfers of funds rather than in the form of grants’. Enzi’s bill is co-sponsored by John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Jon Tester and Max Baucus, both D-Mont. The bill was introduced on Dec. 11, 2007.

Enzi and Barrasso are looking for the best way to get the bill to the Senate floor for consideration before Congress adjourns at the end of the year.

Wyoming received the first AML payment from the federal government last month after applying for the money. If S. 2448 becomes law Wyoming will no longer have to apply for the funds.