REPS. JENKINS, ROGERS, GRIFFITH INTRODUCE BILL TO REVITALIZE COAL COMMUNITIES
WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) helped introduce bipartisan legislation today to bring $1 billion in federal funds to revitalize coal communities hardest hit by the regulatory and economic downturns in coal.
Rep. Jenkins is an original cosponsor of the Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More (RECLAIM) Act, introduced by Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and cosponsored by Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.). Rep. Rogers is the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee; Rep. Jenkins is a member of the committee.
The bill would release $1 billion from the existing Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund balance to help communities that have traditionally relied on coal production for jobs or have recently experienced significant coal job losses. Through this bill, $200 million would be distributed to participating states – including West Virginia – for five years, and states would work with local communities to identify and fund economic development projects on abandoned mine sites.
“Thousands of West Virginia coal miners have lost their jobs in the past five years, and our communities have been decimated by the struggling coal market. Nowhere is this problem more critical than Appalachia, especially in my district in Southern West Virginia,” Rep. Jenkins said. “Our small towns and families need the resources to rebuild, attract new employers, create jobs, and give hope to the people who call Appalachia home. I commend Chairman Rogers and my fellow cosponsors for their passion for this issue and their belief that we must get our economy moving again.”
“In Kentucky alone, we’ve lost more than 11,000 coal mining jobs since 2009. Instead of allowing those funds to go unused, now is the time to help our coal producing states reinvest in the coalfields with projects that can create new jobs and reinvigorate our economy,” Rep. Rogers said. “Many coal communities in Appalachia simply do not have the resources to reclaim the abandoned mine sites within their borders. This bill allows these communities to be proactive in restoring these sites and utilize them to put our people back to work.”
“Regrettably, recent years in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia and throughout Appalachia have been difficult,” Rep. Griffith said. “After all, life above ground is impacted when work stops underground as the result of a regulatory onslaught on coal regions, the low cost of competitive fuel, and a sluggish world economy. The RECLAIM Act is an imperative effort to help reinvigorate our hard-hit communities through economic and community development. I will continue fighting along with Congressman Rogers and others to advance economic development strategies such as this which would help keep and grow jobs in Appalachia.”