Thursday, July 12, 2012

In the Heart of Conservative Country Wyoming Politicians Demand Federal Mine Clean-up Money They Don’t Need for Mine Clean-up

Illustrating Hypocrisy, One Federal Program at a Time

The Federal government is in the business of sending money to the states to clean-up old coal mines.  Although the states were the beneficiaries of the mines, it does seem reasonable that the national government at least lead a helping hand in cleaning up the mess the mine owners left for future generations.  And overall it is not a huge amount of money, relative to total Federal spending.

The federal government plans to send roughly $485 million to 28 states and tribes in 2012 to clean up abandoned coal mines, with $150 million of that going to Wyoming, which produces more coal than any other state.

Okay, that also seems reasonable.  But then there is this.  It seems Wyoming has largely cleaned up its abandoned mines, and largely with the help of Federal largesse, so the law has this condition.

But a provision in the new highway law would prevent any state that has been certified as having addressed its most polluted or dangerous mines from receiving more than $15 million in any year. Wyoming is the only state that has this certification and receives more than $15 million a year.

Now Wyoming is dominated by Republicans and Conservatives (think Dick Cheney, if you can) and so one would think they are happy to turn away the money and save the taxpayers from funding that is not needed.  Think again.

Wyoming lawmakers are livid that the new federal highway-funding and student-loan bill slashes funds the state would get for coal-mine cleanup, money that the state has been using for unrelated projects.

Yes, these fiscal Conservatives are livid that Wyoming is not receiving money to clean up coal mines when they do not need money to clean up coal mines.  And anybody wonder what they have used the money for in the past?

Funny, It Does Not Look Like a Clean Up Coal Mine?

Because Wyoming has largely addressed many of the issues related to abandoned underground and surface mines, it has been allowed to use the money for just about any project state officials approve. A Wall Street Journal article in April described some of the projects budgeted with Wyoming's abandoned-mine money, such as $10 million for renovations to a basketball arena at the University of Wyoming.

But that didn’t stop a Wyoming Senator from getting all hot and bothered.

"The manner in which the [abandoned-mine] program was amended is outrageous," said Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.). "This provision was written behind closed doors, without a hearing, debate or any input from the public, the State of Wyoming or its elected representatives."

Gosh, wonder what the Hypocritical Wing of the Republican Party is going to say when real cuts arrive?

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