Wyoming leaders are shell-shocked after learning that Congress has arranged to take hundreds of millions of dollars money from the Abandoned Mine Lands program to fund a federal transportation bill.
Wyoming coal producers have paid $2.9 billion into the program, and the state was guaranteed $1.9 billion back for reclamation efforts. The cut would reduce Wyoming’s share by about 700 million dollars over the next decade. That money is used for a variety of projects.
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Keith Guille says his agency uses a lot of the money for mine reclamation. He says the cut would have an impact.
“Well, it just will slow down, certainly, how many projects we can do yearly,” Guille says.
University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources Director Mark Northam says the cut could jeopardize clean coal research, which he says is “critical” to making use of Powder River Basin coal in the future.
“More than likely, we will see a much-reduced or even eliminated fund so that new projects will be much more difficult to find resources for,” Northam says.
Northam says it’s unfair that Wyoming should have paid so much into the AML program only to have its access to the funds cut so drastically.
Wyoming’s Congressional delegation has vowed to get the money back.