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On Friday, during a fiscal year 2017 budget hearing with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) on Capitol Hill, Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-05) applauded projects managed by the Corps over the last several years in southern and eastern Kentucky, from the Wolf Creak Dam rehabilitation project to various flood protection projects across the region. However, Rogers criticized the Corps for implementing regulatory hurdles that are killing jobs and slowing economic growth in Kentucky and nationwide. 

In the years before President Obama took office, Eastern Kentucky employed more than 15,000 coal miners, which has now been reduced to around 5,000. 

"Despite this staggering unemployment and economic depression, this Administration continues to march on with its 'keep it in the ground' strategy with regard to coal. Not only do these policies completely turn these coal communities upside-down, but they weaken our national energy economy by neglecting our most plentiful natural resource," said Rogers. "Time and again, I have seen job creators in my District and around the country struggle to do business under this wrong-headed regulatory regime. They have seen their permit applications left to languish and decisions on their lease modifications needlessly delayed. Each new regulation and each delay of an important permit decision threatens much-needed jobs and leads to uncertainty for thousands of workers."

Rogers expressed fear that the Corps has lost sight of its role in economic development and commitment to its recreation mission.

"Unfortunately, the Corps has put up roadblock after roadblock every time my constituents want to pursue a job-creating opportunity that requires their involvement," said Rogers. "I am continually perplexed by the Corps' reluctance to support tourism and recreation on Corps lakes and rivers, when instead they should be fast-tracking every opportunity for development in this economically depressed region." 

Rogers asked the Corps why they have required the coal industry to provide multiple copies of 404 mining permit applications at their own expense, and why objections to permits are considered long after the filing deadline.

"I really want to know answers to these questions I've raised. I'm shooting real bullets here." stated Rogers. "It's plain, the thing you've been working on with the EPA has completely shut down coal and you have been spectacularly successful. I've got 10,000 miners in my district alone, laid off. They've got kids, they've got car payments, they've got house payments, they've got food bills to pay and the like." 

Click here to watch the FY17 Energy and Water budget hearing.