That's nearly a quarter of a billion dollars directly from tax payers to clean up the messes left by coal companies that have abandoned their responsibilities to keep our land safe and our water clean. The program has provided over $7 billion since the program began.
I am happy that this funding is going to clean up many devastated areas with $51.3 million slated to come to West Virginia this year. However, it's important to keep these costs in mind the next time coal companies like Massey Energy and the loyal politicians who represent them talk glowingly about the importance of coal to our economy.
There are many hidden costs associated with mining coal - especially when it's done irresponsibly. Sadly, folks who want West Virginia to be "Open for Business" at all costs and want to "Unleash Capitalism" never seem to include these costs in their bottom line.
When the government provides funding for social programs such as health insurance for children - it's decried as "socialism". But, when the government provides funding to clean up messes from corrupt corporations, those same budget hawks and government critics are eerily quiet.
For example, after much debate and overriding a Presidential veto from President Bush, the federal government provided $36 million to West Virginia for sCHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program) in 2008 with an $8 million state match.
On the other hand, there was hardly a peep about today's action to give the equivalent a $51.3 million handout to offset the expenses that coal companies should pay themselves.
If that $51.3 million went to support programs for children and families, I bet the conservative elite and their followers would have had something to say about it.
Cross posted at WVaBlue.