Lawmakers Seek $1 Billion for Struggling Coal States

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – Lawmakers from Appalachian states hit hard by a downturn in the coal industry proposed a bill Wednesday that would set aside $1 billion from a federal fund to use for economic development.

The House bill mirrors a plan laid out last year in President Barack Obama’s budget proposal that diverts money from a fund devoted to redeveloping abandoned mining sites. Kentucky, one of the states hardest hit by slumping coal production, would receive about $100 million over five years.

Kentucky Rep. Hal Rogers, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and one of the bill’s sponsors, said the measure has bipartisan support and was crafted with help from the White House. The $1 billion taken from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund would be used for economic development – tourism, infrastructure, new business – on or near sites that have been deemed abandoned mines.