Appalachian legislators give POWER+ the cold shoulder
Thursday, July 2nd, 2015
Appalachia’s coal-bearing counties would directly benefit from the adoption of the POWER+ plan, a proposal in the Obama administration’s 2016 budget that would direct more than a billion dollars to Central Appalachia.
But last week, the U.S. Senate appropriations committee passed a budget bill the leaves out any mention of POWER+.
The U.S. House budget leaves Virginia entirely out of the forward-thinking Abandoned Mine Lands funding reforms that were spelled out in the POWER+ Plan. That component of the plan would send $30 million directly to the Virginia coalfields for economic development and put laid-off miners back to work cleaning up the messes left by coal companies.
For more background, we recommend this piece by Naveena Sadasivam for InsideClimate News, which details the curious quiet around POWER+ and how the plan has been pulled into the partisan bickering that’s embroiled the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan and the 2016 budget process as a whole.
Under the federal Abandoned Mine Lands program, sites that pose a threat to safety are prioritized over sites that offer a potential economic benefit if cleaned up. While this program has reduced potential hazards in the coal-mining regions of Appalachia and the U.S., it has done little to positively impact local economies.
The POWER+ Plan, however, calls for funds to be used for projects that not only improve the environment and reduce hazards, but also create an economic benefit for local economies.
There’s still time for both House and Senate to include the meaningful funding proposals outlined in POWER+. But in order for that to happen, we need to the Senate to hear a clear message that Appalachia deserves this much-needed funding!