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Jenkins discusses funding for mine reclamation sites, Green Bank Observatory


The Register-Herald

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Congressman Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., said he’s continuing to fight for funding for coal mine reclamation, as well as funding for the Green Bank Observatory and the White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery.

In a pilot project, the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program awarded tens of millions of dollars to states and regions, including six projects in West Virginia, to reclaim abandoned mine sites and turn them into economically viable properties.

U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va.

Jenkins said in President Trump’s budget proposal, the continuation of the pilot project was not funded.

“I can assure folks watching this project and program, which is important in creating job opportunities in West Virginia — we are going to do our darnedest to make sure this program is funded and continues.”

He said this project is not only a way to preserve and protect the environment, but a way to put people back to work.

Jenkins said already-announced projects, such as the Sullivan project in Raleigh County, are already fully funded and under way.

Several million dollars were awarded to the Sullivan project, just yards away from the I-77/I-64 split, which will allow an access road to be constructed to the property. Jenkins said this project is “well, well under way” with help from the National Guard, highways officials and engineers.

Another project in Nicholas County, an apple orchard initiative, is also under way, Jenkins noted.

“The funding is there to fully fund the promises through these projects that have been made,” he said.

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Jenkins said the National Science Foundation is fighting “tooth and nail” for a funding solution for the long-term stability and viability of the Green Bank Observatory.

“What a treasured asset for our state,” Jenkins said. “An absolute critical asset for our country, and an attractor for our youth in STEM interests.”

National Science Foundation Director France Cordova has taken a personal interest, Jenkins said, in finding partners and collaborators across federal agencies to find activity that could be conducted at the Green Bank Telescope and attract associated funding.

Jenkins said a draft report of the National Science Foundation’s environmental impact study will be released in early fall. The public will have an opportunity to weigh in after the release of the report.

• • •

During an appropriations hearing with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Jenkins said he discussed the White Sulphur Springs National Fish Hatchery.

More than 9 million adult rainbow trout were killed as a result of the June 2016 floods.

Jenkins said 26 hatcheries received eggs from White Sulphur Springs, and he has been working during the past year to ensure the facility receives the necessary funding to get back up and running.

While the hatchery is not yet at full speed, he said it is back open and has the opportunity for expansion.

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