WASHINGTON, DC -- The 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed into law last week, provides critical funding for the federal government through the remainder of the fiscal year, including a number of provisions to ensure coal remains a vibrant part of America's energy portfolio. The law also boosts our military and national defense, enhances school safety, combats the nation's opioid epidemic, and supports economic development and infrastructure projects.
The law provides funding for key federal programs that impact people living in the coalfields of Southern and Eastern Kentucky, including $155 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), $301.5 million for the Economic Development Administration (EDA), and another $25 million for the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot Program, an effort championed by Congressman Rogers to revitalize land for economic development opportunities in coal communities.
"The war on coal is over, but we have a lot of work ahead of us to revitalize our communities and create new job opportunities in our region. This funding will go a long way to invest in pro-coal initiatives to help our Appalachian communities rebuild and launch innovative projects," said Congressman Rogers. "This legislation also provides grants to improve water quality and shore up safe drinking water, which could prove to be very beneficial in the wake of aging water system disruptions in Eastern Kentucky."
FY18 Omnibus Highlights
Pro Coal Provisions
- Impact on Coal Exports – includes language prohibiting any funds in the bill from being used for to either directly or indirectly prohibit coal-fired power projects around the globe.
- EPA Funding / Oversight – freezes EPA funding at the FY17 level. Since FY10, EPA funding has been reduced by $2.2 billion. It also reduces funding for EPA regulatory activities by $23.5M from FY17 and holds EPA staffing to the lowest level in 30 years. EPA’ staffing levels have been reduced by 650 positions over the last year, and 3,106 since FY10.
- Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) – the bill provides $10.37 million for state training grants and ensures those funds may be used to help coal operators manage the cost associated with the expensive equipment necessarily for complying with the MSHA Dust Rule. The bill also expresses concern that the level of MSHA inspectors far exceeds that which is required to ensure the safe operation of existing domestic coal mines and directs the agency to take action, including reductions in force if necessary, to ensure sufficient industry oversight that does not exceed statutory and regulatory requirements.
- Fossil Energy Research – advances an “all of the above” energy strategy by investing in fossil energy research. These investments in cutting edge technologies will ensure coal remains a significant part of our energy portfolio—both here at home and abroad. Department of Energy (DOE) Fossil Energy Research programs are funded at $727 million, which is $59 million above FY17 funding levels. The DOE Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) and Power Systems Program is funded at $481 million, with $53 million set aside for the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) to focus on coal, natural gas and oil technologies.
Economic Development Programs
- Reclamation of Abandoned Mine Lands – in addition to full support for the annual state AML grant program, an additional $115 million is provided for the continuation of a pilot program successfully implemented in Fiscal Year 2016. This program targets opportunities for reclamation and job creation in struggling coal communities in Appalachia. Kentucky will receive an additional $25 million in grants for reclamation and economic development.
- Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) – provides $155 million for ARC, which supports economic growth in distressed counties in the Appalachian region, including $10 million to continue an existing program which will increase broadband access. This also includes $50 million for the POWER Initiative to support communities, primarily in Central Appalachia, that have been adversely impacted by the declining coal industry, by providing resources for job creation, job training, and other employment services.
- Economic Development Administration – allocates $301.5 million for the EDA, an increase of $25 million from FY17. $30 million is specifically carved out for EDA’s Assistance to Coal Mining Communities program, which supports locally-driven efforts to generate job creation, capital investment, workforce development and re-employment opportunities in coal country. Additionally, this legislation encourages the EDA to use these funds to support broadband infrastructure projects, which will help communities attract new industries and grow local economies.
- Federal Prison System – includes $7.1 billion for Federal Prison System Salaries and Expenses, an increase of $105 million from FY17 enacted level, to support federal employees at the four federal prisons in our region. The bill also includes an additional $50 million to construct a new federal prison in Letcher County, Ky., bringing the total reserved for this project to $494 million.
- National Parks – provides $3.2 billion for the National Park Service, including much-needed funding for park maintenance and $23 million for the celebration of the National Park Centennial. These funds will support projects at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park and Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.
- Community Service Block Grants, Rural Community Facilities, and Community Economic Development Grants – provides $715 million that will allow Community Action Agencies to continue their efforts to support low-income individuals increase self-sufficiency.
- Payment in Lieu of Taxes – fully funds the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program for Fiscal Year 2019 at $530 million. The PILT program compensates local communities for lost tax revenues due to the presence of Federal lands within their boundaries. Funding from this program will benefit almost every county in the 5th Congressional District
- Community Development Financial Institutions – provides $250 million to promote economic revitalization in low-income communities. Kentucky-based organizations like Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation and Community Ventures use these funds to help individuals buy homes, start and grow small businesses, as well as fund projects that improve our local communities.
- HubZone – includes $3 million to help small businesses in rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities.
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – provides $6.83 billion, $789 million more than FY17, for the Corps of Engineers to improve and rebuild the nation’s water resources and infrastructure. This includes $5.4 million for the Corps’ non-structural flood control programs, some of which may be used for the Town of Martin Redevelopment Plan.
- Water Reallocation Study at Lake Cumberland – prohibits the US Army Corps of Engineers from completing a Water Reallocation Study for Lake Cumberland. This study would result in nearby towns and other users paying more for access to water at the lake.
- USDA Infrastructure Programs – provides an additional $201.5 million for Rural Community Facilities loans and grants, which facilitates construction of healthcare facilities, town halls, child care centers, police offices, libraries, food pantries and other essential communal infrastructure. The bill also provides $5.5 billion in loans to finance power generation, transmission, and distribution systems and $690 million for telecommunications infrastructure in rural areas. Finally, the bill funds a $600 million increase for broadband grants and loans, 90 percent of which must go to rural areas without sufficient service currently.
- Rural housing programs – $25.1 billion, a $100 million increase, is included for USDA Section 502 Loans. $31.5 million is available for the Housing Repair program. Within HUD, $50 million is provided for the Self-Help and Assisted Homeownership Program. $1.4 billion is also included for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program to help state and local governments provide affordable housing options to low-income people.
- Clean Water and Drinking Water – provides $1.69 billion to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund $1.16 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which support local drinking water and sewer construction projects. The bill also provides a $500 million increase to improve water quality and ensure the safety of drinking water in rural communities through technical assistance grants.
- Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) – includes $3.3 billion for grants that provide critical infrastructure funding to states and local communities to address economic development and housing needs.
Programs to Support Rural Educational Achievement and Job Training
- Head Start – promotes school readiness, an important part of preparing children for a successful future in the region, with $9.8 billion for Head Start programs – an additional $600 million over last year.
- Career, Technical, and Adult Education – provides $1.8 billion for Career, Technical, and Adult Education, an increase of $110 million from FY17. This program is an essential component of the high school curriculum. This funding will assist Kentucky schools in providing students with skills necessary for a successful transition to the workforce.
- Job Corps – provides $1.7 billion for FY18, an increase of $14.5 million from the FY17 level. This funding will assist the several Kentucky Job Corps locations to continue providing career technical training to our nation’s youth, while allowing them to work towards a high school diploma or college credits. It also promotes a sense of community and family.
To learn more about Kentucky-related highlights in the law, visit halrogers.house.gov.