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September 17, 2007 -

Barrasso Spearheads Fight for Wyo's AML Money

Wyo leadership insist that President must honor $550 million agreement

WASHINGTON – Rallying leaders of the state of Wyoming -- including the Speaker of the House, President of the Senate, Governor, Senators and Representative -- U.S. Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., sent a sharp letter to the White House Sunday insisting the President to use his executive powers to act and release Abandoned Mine Land (AML) money that is due to Wyoming.

During the Council of State Government West 60th annual conference in Jackson on Sunday night, Barrasso spearheaded a combined, bipartisan voice that will be unmistakable to Washington .

Barrasso said recent Office of Surface Mining's (OSM) inactions have fallen far short of what Congress has instructed. 

The Senator said OSM has done nothing to alleviate Wyoming's strong concerns that the federal government will not return AML funds to Wyoming and other affected states as Congress instructed.  Joining Barrasso in the bipartisan letter to the White House are Senator Mike Enzi, Representative Barbara Cubin, Governor Dave Freudenthal, Speaker of the House Roy Cohee, and President of the Wyoming Senate John Schiffer.

"Given these concerns we request that you exercise your presidential powers and commence with the disposition of these funds in fiscal year 2008 as intended by Congress," the letter to Bush said. 

"We prevail upon your experience as Governor of Texas, our shared ideals of limited government with seamless bureaucracies, and our Western values instructing that an agreement made is an agreement honored," the leaders wrote.

Speaking from the conference, Barrasso said, "On this issue, Wyoming speaks with one voice.  Perhaps some in Washington underestimated the dedication each of us share to see this issue through.   There should be no doubt left – we don't intend to lose sight of what is important to our state, our people and to our future."

AML funds were collected over the past 30 years from mining operations in Wyoming . As part of the law establishing the reclamation program, half of the funds collected are to be returned to the State or Indian tribe.

The federal government owes Wyoming more than $550 million of accumulated AML funds.