Press Release

McCarthy’s debt ceiling proposal guts economic revitalization efforts in coal communities

April 19, 2023

Adam Wells, Regional Director of Community and Economic Development, (​​804) 240-4372
Dan Radmacher, Media Specialist, (540) 798-6683

Today, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy unveiled bill text for a proposal to lift the debt ceiling while significantly reducing funding for government programs. The proposal includes provisions to repeal advanced manufacturing tax credits and advanced energy tax credits enacted as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, including bonus incentives for projects in “energy communities” designed to help communities impacted by coal mine closures and power plant closures recover and grow new clean energy job opportunities.

McCarthy’s proposal also limits federal spending levels to 2022 levels, and caps the growth of spending over the next 10 years at 1% annually. These limits mean that agency budgets won’t keep up with inflation, and important economic development programs for Appalachia and other coal-impacted communities will experience significant budget cuts.

Typically, raising the debt ceiling is routine business. Congress raised it three times during President Donald Trump’s time in office. Increasing the debt ceiling doesn’t authorize additional spending, but only ensures the United States can pay its bills and not default on existing debt.

“Right now, small-town manufacturing companies, county leaders and state agencies are putting together nuts-and-bolts proposals to use new federal funding to create jobs and bring new opportunities to disadvantaged communities in Appalachia,” said Adam Wells, regional director of community and economic development at Appalachian Voices. “Cuts to the Inflation Reduction Act and federal agency budgets would pull the rug out from underneath these energy communities as they are building these proposals.”

“McCarthy’s proposed spending cuts would more than likely mean less money for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, which has already seen its funding drop,” said Willie Dodson, Central Appalachian field coordinator with Appalachian Voices. “Despite modest increases in congressional allocations, the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s real-dollar budget has shrunk by almost $50 million since 2013, and the agency’s coal mine safety enforcement personnel has shrunk by almost half. This means fewer staff to enforce safety rules in mines, putting miners at an increased risk of accidents causing death or serious injury, and likely increasing workers’ exposure to dangerous respirable dust which causes black lung disease.”

“Cutting agency funding across the board weakens successful resources that Appalachian communities depend on, like the Abandoned Mine Revitalization and Economic Revitalization Program, the Economic Development Administration and the Appalachian Regional Commission,” said Chelsea Barnes, director of government affairs at Appalachian Voices.

“Communities near mining operations are also seeing hazardous mine sites going unreclaimed for long periods of time, exacerbating the impacts of major flood events in the Appalachian mountains and putting lives and economic recovery efforts at risk,” said Erin Savage, senior program manager for Appalachian Voices. “More action from the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement is needed to ensure coal companies are adequately reclaiming their mine sites in a timely manner, and cuts to the agency’s budget would further harm economic recovery efforts.”


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