Boy, President Obama sure does have a problem with coal miners. He promised them he would bankrupt their employers, and he’s been doing his best to keep that promise. But it’s not just the coal miners his administration is hurting, it’s the people in Appalachian counties in Virginia, too. What’s his problem, is he still ticked about those who cling to guns and religion? Did they fail to heed his administration’s attempt to rob them of their heritage in an effort to put them on the dole? It must be something, why else would his administration drag their heels on approval for a vital economic development project in Southwest Virginia?
Officials from two Southwestern Virginia counties say a project vital to the area’s economic development has been held up for years because of a dispute with federal regulators over what is an airport and what is a coal mine.
Local leaders say the three-year battle with the U.S. Office of Surface Mining over plans to extend the runway at Grundy Municipal Airport has cost taxpayers in this poverty-stricken corner of Appalachia millions of dollars in lost opportunities, and a list of regulatory hurdles remains before construction can even begin.
“We were attempting to permit this project as an airport project, not a coal-mining project,” said state Sen. Phillip P. Puckett, a Democrat from Lebanon who has been involved for three years with the effort to lengthen the runway from 2,200 feet to more than 5,000 feet — the length needed to comply with insurance standards for corporate jets. The holdup: Federal regulators have refused to allow the runway project to go forward without a mining permit because of the coal deposits below the land that will be dug up during construction.
“That’s where the permitting process got caught up — in determining whether it was an airport project or a mining project, by the Office of Surface Mining in Washington,” Mr. Puckett said. “We’ve tried to resolve that with them for the last couple of years. We’ve had very little success.” (Read More)
They want to use the sale of coal they dig up to help finance the project. That’s fiscally responsible. No wonder the Obama administration is giving them a hard time.
Update: Matt Vespa noted that the jobs that are being held up by the Obama administration would pay on average $70,000 per year. That’s not a bad living, especially in a place where the median household income is just over $29,000. Stacy McCain wonders why more people aren’t outraged by this.’
People everywhere should be outraged by this: A poor Appalachian town’s best prospect for promoting economic development held up for three years because the radical environmentalists appointed by President Obama are determined to destroy the coal industry. (See my Oct. 8 column, “Counting on Coal Country,” for more background on Obama’s “war on coal.”)
The federal Office of Surface Mining might as well be re-named the Office of Abolishing Surface Mining under Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar who, as Michelle Malkin has detailed at length, is a top enforcer of Obama’s environmental agenda. (Read More)
Funny how the media doesn’t talk much about Obama’s war on coal. But you know the people he’s hurting know what he’s doing, and they’re going to vote.