State

House panel approves $90 million for pilot mine reclamation program

This Jan. 14, 2013 file photo shows House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky. on Capitol Hill in Washington.
This Jan. 14, 2013 file photo shows House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky. on Capitol Hill in Washington. AP

The House Appropriations Committee has approved $90 million to continue a program aimed at reclaiming abandoned coal mines in Appalachia to boost economic development, Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers announced Thursday.

Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennyslvania each received $30 million under the pilot program this year, which was the first for the program.

The committee, which Rogers chairs, approved another $90 million as part of the budget being worked out in Congress. It would be released in the next federal fiscal year if ultimately approved.

The program would expand to three more states under the proposal.

Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, the Appalachian states with the most abandoned mine land, would each receive $25 million, while Virginia, Ohio and Alabama would each receive $5 million, according to Rogers’ office.

The goal of the program is to link reclamation of mined areas to economic development, such as by creating sites that could be used for forests, agriculture or industry.

Reclamation of abandoned mines typically focuses on cleaning up environmental damage, with no link to economic development required.

Rogers and President Barack Obama have separate proposals to speed up release of $1 billion from the federal abandoned mine land fund for efforts to help places such as Eastern Kentucky that have been hurt by a sharp downturn in coal jobs since 2011.

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