U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) recently ensured that West Virginia priorities were included in the FY 2018 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill and the FY 2018 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, which passed out of the Appropriations Committee Tuesday.
The appropriations bills include strong funding for the opioid epidemic, rural development, food assistance programs, the Appalachian Storage Hub, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and Appalachian Regional Commission.
“As a proud new member of the Appropriations Committee, I have made it clear that I believe we must work in a bipartisan way in order to do right by the American people and that’s exactly what I have experienced in crafting these appropriations bills,” Manchin said. “We have come together and put together a bipartisan proposal that reflects our values. For West Virginia, I made sure that our state receives funding for issues facing our state like the opioid epidemic and food assistance programs and critical economic opportunities like the Appalachians Storage Hub, rural development, our national lab in Morgantown (NETL) and the Appalachian Regional Council. I look forward the passing this important funding bill in the Senate.”
The Appropriations Committee recommends $145.4 Billion in funding for FY 2018 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. West Virginia priorities include:
- Strong language to help the FDA combat the opioid epidemic, including language to require FDA to seek expert advice when considering new opioid medications, require opioid prescriber education, and limit over-prescribing through increased awareness of the CDC’s opioid prescribing guidelines.
- Strong rural development funding at close to FY 2017 levels of $37 billion for grants, loans and program management.
- Strong funding for food assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at $73.6 billion, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) at $6.4 billion.
- Chesapeake Bay Watershed funded.
The Appropriations Committee recommends $38.4 Billion in funding for FY 2018 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. West Virginia priorities include:
- Ethane Storage Hub Language – The Committee will direct the Department of Energy to identify Federal agencies with jurisdictional oversight of such a project and to coordinate with the liaisons of those agencies to streamline the permitting application and approval process for a central Appalachian ethane storage and distribution hub.
- $131.3 million for National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) .
- Within NETL Research and Development, the Committee commends the Department for including in their request support for the Feasibility of Recovering Rare Earth Elements. The Committee recommends $15 million for the Department to expand its external agency activities to develop and test commercially viable advanced separation technologies at proof-of-concept or pilot scale that can be deployed near term for the extraction and recovery of rare earth elements and minerals from US coal and coal by-product sources having the highest potential for success. The Committee encourages the Department to leverage the capabilities of outside applied researchers in implementing these activities. The Committee directs the Department establish university partnerships to support efforts to increase production of unconventional fossil fuels through innovative seismic research, including optimizing high resolution and time lapse geophysical methods for improved resource detection and better rock characterization. The objective of this research is to facilitate necessary technology development, expand understanding of subsurface dynamics, encourage prudent development and develop best practices and tools.
- Appalachia Regional Commission funded at $142 million. Includes authorization to spend $50 million for POWER Plus primarily in Appalachia.
- Weatherization Program funded at $265 million to include $215 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program.