WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, continues to advocate for coal communities this week during fiscal year 2017 budget hearings on Capitol Hill. Rogers recently described the impact of the Department of Interior’s job — killing regulations in the Appalachian coalfields, during a budget hearing with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
“For every one mining job we lose in my area, we lose three to four more in other industries,” said Rogers. “We have a real crisis in Appalachia, and some of the policies championed by your department only exacerbate the very real challenges that they face every day.”
Specifically, the Department of Interior has spent millions over the last four years on its proposed Stream Protection Rule, a mismanaged revision of the stream buffer zone rule that was finalized in 2008.
“There is no doubt that this rule will have a tremendous impact on determining what coal can and cannot be mined and will result in the bulk of it being left in the ground,” said Rogers. “One independent analysis of the proposed rule indicates that it threatens up to 280,000 jobs, most of which are in Appalachia. That is the equivalent of dozens of small towns in my region – and a high price to pay for what will be imperceptible environmental gains.”
Earlier this year, the Department of Interior issued a moratorium on all federal coal lease sales pending a study of the federal process, halting proposed coal lease sales in nine states, including Kentucky.
“You know as well as I do that this moratorium is just another excuse to keep coal off the market so it can’t compete with other resources,” said Rogers. “This approach is not a winning strategy for energy independence or economic growth in this country.”
Despite efforts to retool and encourage economic development in Appalachian coal communities, Rogers says the Administration’s overreaching regulations are proving too much to overcome in some regions that are already experiencing an unemployment crisis, like Eastern Kentucky.
“Efforts such as the AML pilot program that this Committee began last year and the President’s POWER Plus proposal for economic development on abandoned mine lands represent just a small portion of what it is going to take to get Appalachia back on its feet,” said Rogers. “The job creators in this region need relief from these onerous regulations in order to keep jobs in the coal fields online and to turn their good ideas for economic diversification into employment opportunities.”
“We need to set the right priorities here, in Washington, so that they can resurrect their economies and put their people back to work,” continued Rogers.