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Second Regular Session

Sixty-first General Assembly

LLS NO. R98­0786.01 DHG



also SENATOR Wattenberg.



WHEREAS, The United States Congress established the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund and State Reclamation Programs in 1977, through title IV of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA); and

WHEREAS, Congress set a reclamation fee, also known as an "AML tax", of 35 cents per ton on surface­mined coal, a fee on underground coal of 15 cents per ton or 10 percent of the value of the coal at the mine, whichever is less, and a fee on lignite coal of 10 cents per ton or 2 percent of the value of the coal at the mine, whichever is less; and

WHEREAS, The SMCRA requires that one­half of the reclamation fees collected annually in any State shall be allocated to that State by the Secretary of the Interior; and

WHEREAS, To date, the federal government has failed to honor that obligation, and currently owes the Western states a total of over $280 million under the express terms of the SMCRA; and

WHEREAS, It is currently estimated that the federal government will owe the Western states over $500 million in arrearages by the time the AML tax expires in the year 2004, unless payments are brought current; and

WHEREAS, There are over 23,000 abandoned mines in Colorado and, since 1955, there have been 17 deaths and 21 injuries in Colorado at abandoned mines; and

WHEREAS, The Colorado's mine safeguarding program, established in 1980, has safeguarded over 4,600 abandoned mines; and

WHEREAS, The federal government now holds, in the AML Trust Fund, $13.3 million that rightfully belongs to Colorado under the SMCRA; and

WHEREAS, Unless the payments due to Colorado are brought current, the federal government will owe Colorado some $25 million when collection ends in 2004; now, therefore,

Be It Resolved by the House of Representatives of the Sixty­first General Assembly of the State of Colorado, the Senate concurring herein:

That the Colorado General Assembly demands that the Department of the Interior honor the express language of federal law by returning to Colorado its share of the AML taxes already collected as expeditiously as possible, and by immediately beginning to remit Colorado's share annually, as it is collected, rather than depositing it in the AML Trust Fund.

Created: 4/16/98 Updated: 4/16/98