Tester, Baucus hail Interior Dept. reversal on mineral payments

Senators pushed department to return funds to Montana

(U.S. SENATE) – Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus today released the following statements in response to news that the U.S. Interior Department is returning $2.4 million to Montana under the Mineral Leasing Act. The department originally withheld the funds under the Budget Control Act, better known as sequestration, before reversing course after a review of federal law:

“I’m glad the Interior Department reversed course and is following the law of the land,” Tester said. “We need to get our debt and deficit under control, but ignoring decades-old law is the wrong way to do it.”

“This money comes from Montana, it belongs to Montana and it should be used to clean up Montana mines, period,” Baucus said.

Tester pushed the Interior Department to reverse its earlier decision to withhold the payments, citing the Minerals Leasing Act that guarantees states nearly 50 percent of all rental, royalties and other receipts collected by the federal government for mineral activity on federal lands within state borders.