FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2023
APPALACHIA – Today, President Joe Biden released his Fiscal Year 2024 budget to fund government programs through September 2024. The budget proposal includes crucial investments in programs to boost economic growth in the coalfields, ensure coal mine reclamation and protect miners from black lung disease.
“We are excited to see President Biden continue the work to support environmental justice communities across the coalfields in Appalachia and beyond,” said Chelsea Barnes, Legislative Director at Appalachian Voices. “We urge Congress to enact proposed investments in the Mine Safety Health Administration, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement and the Economic Development Administration to protect coal miners from black lung disease, ensure proper reclamation of coal mines and bolster economic development efforts.”
Specifically, the budget proposes:
- $135 million for the bipartisan Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization program, a proposal that maintains the record investment included in the FY 2023 budget.
- An additional $200 million for the Rebuilding Economies and Creating Opportunities for More People to Excel (RECOMPETE) Act, an economic development block grant program enacted in 2022 as part of the Chips and Science Act and first funded in the FY 2023 budget.
- $301.9 million for the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, which is a modest 4% increase over current funding levels, necessary for enforcing regulations related to mine reclamation and monitoring.
- $438 million for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, a 13% increase over FY2023 levels, necessary for monitoring and enforcement of regulations related to mine safety and dust exposure.
“In the past 10 years, staffing at the Mine Safety and Health Administration has decreased by 30%, during which time rates of black lung disease have skyrocketed,” said Willie Dodson, Central Appalachian Field Coordinator. “This decline in staffing means fewer mine inspections, putting miners at higher risk. Increasing the budget for the Mine Safety and Health Administration is crucial to protect coal miners from black lung disease.”
“We are thrilled to see continued investments in the RECOMPETE and AMLER programs,” said Barnes. “These programs are specifically designed to invest in economic and community development in the most distressed communities, and Congress should prioritize this funding.”