Monday, August 17, 2015

Appalachian coal town first in nation to support Obama's plan for economic aid for coalfields

The Eastern Kentucky city of Whitesburg (Best Places map) "has become the first to go on record supporting President Obama’s coalfield economic plan, and others may follow soon," Erica Peterson reports for WFPL 89.3 in Louisville. The “Power+ Plan," which is currently before Congress, "was introduced in February, along with Obama’s proposed budget. It would set aside $25 million for the nation’s coal communities that have become casualties of the industry’s decline. Among other things, the plan sets aside money for retraining laid-off coal miners, economic development in the region and to remediate abandoned coal mines and power plants. There’s also money for carbon capture technology."

"But the measure has been stalled since it was proposed in February," Peterson writes. "Now, coalfields municipalities are beginning to ask why. "Whitesburg Mayor James Wiley Craft, who said the county is suffering from the loss of coal jobs, "believes the plan would create jobs for the struggling area." He told Peterson, “Even if they are minimum wage jobs, it’s something that people can earn money from and maintain some sense of their pride. Because a lot of people are getting desperate right now.”

Whitesburg’s resolution specifically calls on Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, who represents the county, "to shepherd the plan through," Peterson reports.

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