U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)Friday voted against the two-year Transportation Conference Committee Agreement, after it was discovered that U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) removed  Abandoned Mine Land (AML) funds guaranteed to the state of Wyoming to cover the legislation’s hefty price tag on items unrelated to highway spending.

Although many states, including Montana, tribes, and union miners from the east all receive AML funds,  Lummis, in a news release, says Wyoming was the only one targeted.

The AML program is funded by a tax on every ton of coal produced.  Similar to oil and gas royalties, the AML law provides that half the tax be returned to the states, and the other half given to the federal government to clean up abandoned mines in states with the largest reclamation needs.  The half set aside for Wyoming and other states and tribes was never paid until a 2006 law forced the federal government to meet its commitments, and the federal government has been fulfilling its backlog of payments to Wyoming since.

Lummis says Sen.  Baucus was part of the careful negotiations that established the AML program in 2006, but without consulting the Wyoming delegation, drafted a provision that takes all but a fraction of Wyoming’s AML funds, leaving every other AML recipient untouched.