Friday, August 21, 2015

Politicians need to put aside animosity toward Obama, support Power + Plan, editorial states

As more coal counties and towns continue to show support for President Obama’s coalfield economic Power + Plan to spend $1 billion over five years in an effort to help areas hurt by a sharp downturn in coal jobs, state political leaders who have opposed Obama and his administration's efforts to replace coal with renewable energies should heed the word of the people and support the plan, states an editorial in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

That means influential leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has declared Obama's Clean Power plan a "war on coal," and Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), who represents Eastern Kentucky and chairs the House Appropriations Committee, "should set aside their partisan animosity toward Obama and put their weight behind getting the money owed to coal communities into the budget," states the editorial.

"The stiffest resistance will likely come from lawmakers from western coal states," the editorial states. "Their states have no more abandoned coal-mine cleanup needs but still collect millions of dollars from the coal-tax fund."

One thing people are missing is that the $1 billion is not a handout but is owed and past due, states the editorial. "The money is sitting in a $2.5 billion fund derived from a tax that Congress first levied on the coal industry in 1977, specifically to clean up safety and health hazards left behind by earlier mining. The money would put idled miners, engineers and coal companies back to work at something they know how to do and that needs to be done."

That would be huge for Kentucky, which "has $461 million worth of unfunded repair needs related to abandoned mine lands," states the editorial. "Every heavy rain reveals more dangers as abandoned mines blow out; slide into homes, streets and roads; or pollute drinking water sources. Yet less than $20 million came to Kentucky last year from the $2.5 billion fund to repair such hazards." (Read more)

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