The Bell County Fiscal Court unanimously voted to approve a resolution in support of the Power Plus Plan — a proposed plan to send money back into counties, states and communities that have been affected by the war on coal.
Bell County Judge- Executive Albey Brock briefly explained the plan to those in attendance.
“Some of you may or not be aware of what the Power Plus Plan is and I am going to give you the Reader’s Digest version of it,” began Brock.
According to Brock, years ago when there was a number of abandoned mines due to mining operations from the mines going out of business, the mines would forgo their bond and leave the sites they were mining basically unclaimed. In response, the federal government formed Abandoned Mine Lands that addressed those abandoned mines. The AML over funded the unclaimed mines. They put hundreds of millions of dollars into the program. A bunch of the money was expended in the 1990s and early 2000s. and as a result a lot of the mines were fixed but there are a handful of those mines that are out there that have not received funding. Despite the majority of the mines being fixed, the same level of money kept coming into this fund.
Brock went on to give what he clarified was his opinion of the current situation in regards to what has happened to the coal industry.
“I think that President Obama has fulfilled his promise in that he was going to put coal out of business,” began Brock. “That’s not political rhetoric or me just picking at the president, those words came out of his mouth, and most of you all in this room have seen it over and over again.”
He continued on as to why he felt the Power Plus Plan has been offered.
“He’s done that and it’s my opinion that, and I hope that, he’s decent enough, that he’s feeling guilty about it and he’s proposed a plan to take that AML money, and its called the Power Plus Plan, and allow that money to be sent back into the counties, the states and the communities that have been affected by mining,” continued Brock.
According to Brock, the criteria to receive the Power Plus Plan money is high and it is not as if the government is going to just cut the county a check. The way the Power Plus Plan will work is instead of the money being strictly used to fix the abandoned mines, it will be able to be used to improve the properties for economic development.
A large sum of money has been set aside for Bell County.
“There is up to $4 million available for Bell County, that is how much has been set aside,” said Brock. “So today we felt it prudent, that despite the fact that this is Obama’s idea, that we support that, and that we let our congressmen and our senator know.”
Brock says he has already verbally let Congressman Hal Rogers know that Bell County would be supporting the plan and that they need and want the money. Brock said Rogers has already announced that he is in support of the plan as well.
Brock also pointed out that several neighboring counties have already approved similar resolutions in support of the Power Plus Plan as their meetings have feel earlier than the Bell County meeting.
The board unanimously voted to approve the resolution in support of the Power Plus Plan.
Reach Reina P. Cunningham at 606-302-9091 or on Twitter @ReinaDailyNews