US senators from Wyoming, New Mexico plan bill to try to restore states' minerals payments

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – U.S. senators from Wyoming and New Mexico say they’ll roll out legislation this week to try to restore about $110 million in cuts to a federal minerals payment program that hit their states the hardest.

Wyoming, the nation’s biggest coal-producing state, stands to lose more than $50 million this year, while New Mexico faces a loss of about $25 million.

New Mexico Democratic Sen. Tom Udall told Interior Secretary Sally Jewell at a hearing in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday that the legislation is intended to make sure the federal government can’t get its hands on the money.

Jewell said federal budget cuts left her agency no choice but to cut the payments.

Republican Sen. Mike Enzi, of Wyoming, says the state’s delegation is working on the legislation.