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Huffington Post: Western senators seek to restore minerals payments

U.S. senators from Wyoming and New Mexico said Tuesday they plan to roll out legislation this week to restore about $110 million in cuts to a federal minerals payment program that hit their states the hardest.

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., told Interior Secretary Sally Jewell at a hearing in Washington on Tuesday that the federal Mineral Leasing Act requires the federal government to split revenues from the sale of minerals on federal lands with the states. He said he regards the payments as state revenues that ought to be off limits from federal meddling.

“This revenue is vital to New Mexico, where it funds our public education system,” Udall told Jewell. “New Mexico state leaders are very upset by the Department of Interior’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue determination that these state revenues are subject to sequestration.”

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