House renews funding to clean up old coal mines

The House of Representatives yesterday evening passed two measures that would continue the critical work of communities in Central Appalachia to cleanup and repurpose old coal mines for new economic development initiatives.

The two amendments to the Interior appropriations bill were joined and passed by a single voice vote. One identifies six states to receive funding, instead of three as originally proposed (VA, OH and AL, in addition to WV, KY and PA). The second would retain total funding of $115 million for the fiscal year, rather than $90 million as originally proposed. The additional funding was shifted from the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget.

The measures were championed by Rep. Morgan Griffith of Southwest Virginia, and Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio. A Senate committee similarly included $115 million for the six states; the full Senate has not voted on the bill yet.

Congress passed the same funding in last year’s budget for programs in Appalachia that reclaim abandoned coal mines and redevelop them for new economic activity.

Statement from Thom Kay, Appalachian Voices’s Senior Legislative Representative:

“This program has funded some great projects that have already broken ground in coal communities throughout Appalachia. Representatives Johnson and Griffith have ensured the benefits of the program reach even more communities, and we’re grateful for their efforts.”

>> Visit our New Economy for Appalachia page for more.

Cat McCue, communications director, 434-293-6373,