Includes extension of health care benefits for retired coal miners, ARC funding & $25 million for second AML Pilot for Kentucky
May 01 2017
WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a comprehensive federal spending plan this week to fund the federal government through September 30, 2017, the end of the fiscal year. The FY17 Omnibus Appropriations bill provides nearly $1.2 trillion to address national priorities such as military defense, infrastructure and the opioid abuse epidemic; it also includes critical funding for retired coal miners' health benefits, economic development projects in coal mining communities and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).
Specifically, the bill includes a permanent fix for health care benefits for retired coal miners, their widows and other dependents. It also provides $105 million for a second round of funding for the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot Program, which will enable participating states to reclaim AML sites in conjunction with economic development projects. Under the pilot, Kentucky will receive an additional $25 million in 2017. The Omnibus also includes $30 million for the Economic Development Administration to support coal communities and funds the ARC at historic levels. $152 million in ARC funding includes $10 million for high-speed broadband deployment in distressed central Appalachian communities. Finally, the legislation will help put miners back to work by taking important steps to help the coal industry rebound after eight years of job-killing regulations under President Obama.
"Our coal communities and coal miners have suffered the heavy burden of financial insecurity for far too long," said Congressman Rogers. "Retired coal miners can now rest assured that their medical needs will be met, along with their wives and children. They worked long and hard to power this great nation and we should uphold our commitment to take care of them. Likewise, our coal mining communities in Kentucky are working diligently to rebuild after losing more than 13,000 mining jobs over the last eight years. This legislation will provide funding to boost economic development in our coalfields and create jobs where we need them the most."
Congressman Rogers worked to secure $30 million in 2016 for Kentucky to implement the initial AML Pilot program. Projects funded in Eastern Kentucky include:
- The Appalachian Wildlife Center in Bell County;
- The Marion Branch Industrial Park in Pike County;
- A new Alternative Energy Manufacturing Center in Harlan County;
- Impact Outdoor Adventures in Clay County; and
- Manufacturing training at e-KAMI, the e-Kentucky Advanced Manufacturing Institute in Paintsville.
The Omnibus rolls back Obama-era regulations that would stop the United States from investing in coal-fired power plants in developing countries or redefining “fill material,” and also supports recent Executive Orders issued by President Trump to review the Waters of the United States Rule and the Clean Power Plan, among other onerous environmental regulations. The bill slashes funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by $81.4 million, capping the agency’s staffing at 1989 levels, and advances an “all of the above” energy strategy to make coal a cleaner burning and more efficient fuel – funding Department of Energy Fossil Energy Research programs at $668 million ($36 million above fiscal year 2016).