WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Rep. Harold 'Hal' Rogers (KY-05) applauds the House Appropriations Committee for approving a $30 million pilot program to support economic development opportunities associated with the reclamation of Abandoned Mine Land (AML) sites in Appalachian coalfields. The pilot program is part of the Fiscal Year 2016 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill and provides a refined alternative to the President's proposed and disorganized POWER + plan for abandoned mine lands. This new pilot program protects the AML Fund by directing additional dollars for reclamation projects that include community and economic development on these sites.
“Over the last several years, we have seen countless attempts by President Obama and his Administration to burden our coal communities with job-killing regulations that add tremendous costs to any type of economic development they may pursue. In fact, the Administration has finally acknowledged the damaging effects of its regulatory onslaught in our region with the POWER+ proposal which accompanied this year’s budget request,” said Rogers, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
“With this $30 million pilot program in the Interior appropriations bill, we have re-tooled and refined the President’s incomplete proposal. This is a thoughtful alternative to help hard-hit communities reinvigorate their economies by using abandoned mine land to develop hospitals, community centers and much more. Unlike the President, this committee realizes that these targeted economic development investments must be accompanied by regulatory relief – and I also support measures in this legislation to beat back on the very regulations that have put coal country in this predicament in the first place.”
The pilot program allows participating states to utilize to accelerate the reclamation of abandoned mine lands to boost community redevelopment and economic growth, and the bill also includes provisions to stop various harmful, costly, and potentially job-killing regulations by the EPA.
The bill reduces funding for EPA by $718 million – or 9 percent below the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. Regulatory programs are cut $69 million below the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $206 million below the budget request. In addition, staffing levels at the EPA are held to 15,000, the lowest level since 1989. These reductions will help the agency streamline operations, and focus its activities on core duties, rather than unnecessary regulatory expansion.
The bill: prohibits the EPA from implementing new greenhouse gas regulations for new and existing power plants; prohibits funding for the EPA to implement or administer updates to existing ozone regulations; prohibits the EPA from making changes to the definition of “navigable waters” under the Clean Water Act; and prohibits the EPA from making changes to the definition of “fill material.” The legislation also includes a provision to stop potentially economically damaging changes to the “stream buffer rule.”
The FY16 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill passed the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday and now heads to the House floor for consideration.