DENVER—Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has written to U.S. Secretary of the Department Agriculture and all members of the Colorado Congressional delegation demanding that the federal government end the sequestration of payments made to western states that are available to rural counties with national forest lands. The funds are owed to the states in lieu of revenue from timber sales on federal lands and help finance rural school programs, roads and wildfire-related education or wildland fire mitigation assistance to homeowners.
Suthers is leading the effort by 13 other Western state attorneys general to ensure that the funds are returned as he did in August in leading a similar successful challenge against the U.S. Department of Interior’s attempt to withhold oil and gas payments due the states.
“The federal government recognized the error of its ways in attempting to highjack funds due for oil and gas payments and I have every confidence that with support from Colorado’s Congressional delegation, they will realize their position is legally untenable and end the sequestration of funds,” said Suthers. “At stake is more than $720,000 in annual payments due to the people of Colorado.”
Under the federal Budget Control Act (BCA), these funds are owed to the states, specifically, the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS), Twenty Five Percent Fund Act (25% Fund), and the Bankhead Jones Farm Tenant Act (grasslands payments).
A significant portion of the funding for SRS payments comes directly from receipts that should be provided to states to pass through to counties for funding education, roads and wildfire mitigation and education programs.
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