Rahall: Axing Infrastructure Investments is Fiscal Failure

From a Rep. Nick Rahall Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Noting the negative impact the bill would have on job creation in southern West Virginia, U.S. Representative Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) Friday voted against the Fiscal Year 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations bill that slashes funding for economic development and coal research programs.

The state of our national infrastructure has been graded as ‘D-minus’ by the American Society of Civil Engineers, so I give this bill an ‘F-minus,’” said Rahall.  “I appreciate the need to trim waste and tighten our federal budget, but axing programs that help to spur business growth and reenergize our economy is a sure-fire plan for job losses and fiscal failure.”

The bill provides funding for the U.S. Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and related agencies throughout the coming fiscal year, which begins on October 1.  Among other things, the bill would chop $94 million from the Army Corps, and cut the budget for the ARC by nearly $42 million below its authorized level.

The ARC provides grants and loans for a wide range of economic development needs in communities throughout the Appalachian region, as well as funding for highway and infrastructure programs.  ARC operates in partnership with State and local governments to make the best, most strategically effective use of Federal investments, and, in the process, leverages private investments to help create well-paying jobs and lasting improvements to local economies.  In Fiscal Year 2010 alone, ARC invested $75 million in projects that leveraged over $462 million in private-sector investment, a 6-to-1 ratio, and helped to create or retain over 23,000 jobs.

“A strong infrastructure keeps us competitive in the global economy.  The rabid extremism in the House budget process is killing West Virginia priorities.  Every ARC dollar you slash bleeds private dollars from new investments for infrastructure and job opportunities in our State,” said Rahall.

The bill also cuts $65 million from the Fossil Energy program for coal research, which funds the development of coal technologies to burn coal more cleanly and efficiently.  The Fossil program is also working to advance Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies.  Rahall has long supported CCS because the ability to keep carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere is considered vital for the continued use of coal for power generation throughout the foreseeable future and for establishing coal-to-liquid (CTL) production on American shores.

“With gas prices alarmingly high, we must recognize the need to invest in cleaner, cutting-edge use of West Virginia’s abundant coal supplies.  This research is essential for promoting the development of coal-derived fuel facilities, like the $4 billion coal-to-gasoline plant now under construction in Mingo County, to help reduce America’s over-reliance on foreign oil,” said Rahall.

The Energy and Water bill passed the House by a vote of 219 to 196, and now moves to the Senate.

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