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Federal budget woes to cost Wyo. at least $53M

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - The Department of Interior has notified the state of Wyoming it will lose $53 million in federal mineral revenue payments beginning in March and continuing through July.

In a letter to the State Treasurer's Office, Office of Natural Resources Revenue Director Gregory J. Gould said the payments would be withheld under the sequestration. The department said it would withhold $10.6 million per month with the possibility of more withholding in August and September.

Under law, Wyoming is guaranteed 50 percent of the the revenues from mineral leasing on federal lands in the state.

Gov. Matt Mead said the state is seeking the advice of Attorney General Greg Phillips to fight the federal action.

"This is no way to achieve adequate notice or give our state an opportunity to respond before the action is underway," said Mead in a news release Tuesday. "As far as communications go, this method of passing along significant information that greatly impacts Wyoming gets a grade of F minus or worse. It is not acceptable."

State Treasurer Mark Gordon said in the news release that "the opportunity to take a lot more of what the states are properly owed proved to be too tempting to the federal government. We are using every means necessary to make sure our state is made whole."

Mead said he was consulting Wyoming's congressional delegation and with other neighboring states that might be similarly affected.

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