DENVER (Legal Newsline) - Colorado Attorney General John Suthers wrote to the U.S. Secretary of the Department of Agriculture on Tuesday demanding that the federal government stop the sequestration of payments made to the western states.

Suthers also wrote all members of the Colorado Congressional delegation requesting the end of sequestration of payments typically made available to rural counties with national forest lands. The letter claims funds are owed to the state in lieu of revenue from timber sales on federal lands. The funds would be used to finance wildland fire mitigation assistance to homeowners, wildfire-related education, roads and rural school programs.

Suthers is leading an effort by 13 other Western state attorneys general to secure the return of the funds. In August, the coalition successfully challenged the U.S. Department of Interior's attempt to withhold gas and oil payments due to the states.

"The federal government recognized the error of its ways in attempting to hijack 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," Suthers said. "At stake is more than $720,000 in annual payments due to the people of Colorado."

The funds are owed to the states under the federal Budget Control Act. The states would then pass the funds through to their counties to fund programs.


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