The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a $5.2 million grant for out-of-work coal miners in eastern Kentucky.
The grant will fund re-employment services for miners who have been laid off. A statement from the Labor Department Monday says the funding will also help spouses of coal miners in the region who are looking to re-enter the workforce.
This grant was awarded to the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program. The program will train out-of-work miners and spouses to work in other industries in the region including business services, construction and health care.
The Office of Surface Mining has awarded Kentucky a $40 million grant to eliminate environmental hazards caused by past coal mining.
The money will go to the Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mine Lands
The grants go to 28 coal-producing states annually. They're funded by a fee on mined coal and are intended to repair unstable slopes, eliminate acid mine drainage and restore damaged water supplies.
Kentucky Natural Resources Commissioner Steve Hohmann said the grant money has been used in past years to close mine shafts and portals, put out mine fires, eliminate dangerous highwalls and subsidence and to provide drinking water to residents in mining communities.
Union-backed coal miners in Kentucky and surrounding states are protesting a coal company’s bankruptcy proceedings they say jeopardizes pension and health care benefits for some 20-thousand retirees and dependents. Miners were picketing Wednesday outside Peabody Energy’s headquarters in St. Louis.
Two charter buses bound for St. Louis left early Wednesday morning from western Kentucky to join the protest led by the United Mine Workers of Amercia.
Peabody Energy is one of the nation’s largest coal companies and one of the companies the union accuses of orchestrating business deals that bankrupted Patriot Coal.
A Kentucky lawmaker has filed a bill that would block automatic utility rate increases for power plants that use natural gas.
The Courier-Journal reports Democratic Rep. Jim Gooch of Providence, the chairman of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee, is sponsoring the measure that would prevent utilities from utilizing a provision in state law called the "fuel adjustment clause", which allows utilities to adjust what it charges customers based on changes in cost of fuel or purchased power.
In an interview with the newspaper, Gooch called the measure a "consumer protection bill."
Gooch represents a House seat that covers Daviess, Hopkins, McLean, and Webster counties.