Washington, D.C.- After "legal review" and "careful consideration", the U.S. Department of the Interior has decided to do what U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso and Rep. Cynthia Lummis, all R-Wyo., argued that the Obama Administration was required to do in May—return sequestered mineral revenue owed to the states. Wyoming will get back approximately $50 million that was scheduled to be sequestered in fiscal year (FY) 2013.
On May 16th, the delegation led a bipartisan, bicameral letter with 21 other Western lawmakers to the Office of Management and Budget arguing that Federal budget law requires the Department of the Interior to return mineral revenue sequestered in FY 2013 to the states in FY 2014 (and each subsequent year). The letter outlined that when sequestration occurred in the mid-1980s, the law required that withheld mineral revenue had to be returned to the states in the following fiscal year. The letter explained that the same provision of law applies today. The sequestered money will be returned to the state beginning in FY 2014, according to the Department of the Interior.
“The sequester has been used to justify a lot of questionable policy decisions but I’m pleased that Wyoming’s money will be returned next year. This revenue helps pay for vital investments in our communities and should never have been taken in the first place,” Enzi said.
“This is good news for the people of Wyoming. I'm glad the Administration responded positively to a letter that we sent on May 16th. Our letter made it clear that Federal budget law requires the Department of the Interior to return mineral revenue sequestered in FY 2013 to the states in FY 2014. It is nothing less than that which is required under law," Barrasso said.
"We all knew that taking Wyoming's rightful share of mineral royalties was wrong from the start." Rep. Lummis said. "Thanks to the careful legislative research of Senator Enzi in particular, we prevailed in this case. Unfortunately, until we cut the middle man out if these transactions, we will always be vulnerable to the federal sharks swimming around Wyoming's revenue."
In 2013, the Obama Administration decided that that states’ share of mineral revenue under the Mineral Leasing Act would be subject to sequestration – the automatic, across-the-board federal government spending cuts. The Wyoming delegation, along with lawmakers from other Western states, opposed the move, and in addition to discovering and advancing the legal argument for the reimbursement of sequestered revenue, introduced legislation that would allow states to collect their own share of mineral revenue.