Washington – Wyoming Congresswoman and House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) on Thursday highlighted the Wyoming coal industry’s significant contribution to the federal Abandoned Mine Land (AML) program during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on H.R. 4248. She was honored to introduce Alan Edwards, the Deputy Director of Wyoming’s Department Of Environmental Quality, who was invited to testify before the committee about Wyoming’s experience with the AML program. During the hearing, Rep. Cheney stressed the importance of Wyoming coal to power the nation. Click here to watch her full remarks and see the transcript below:
REP. LIZ CHENEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and thank you Ranking Member Gosar. I also want to thank my colleagues Mr. Cartwright and Mr. Thompson for this important legislation and it’s wonderful to see Alan Edwards here this morning. He was a little bit humble. In addition to the important work that he’s doing both at our DEQ and administering our AML program, he has been recognized nationally for his dedication and commitment to ensuring that this program is administered the way it should be and is obviously an expert in the field and I’m very, very proud to be here today and to have Wyoming so well represented as well by Mr. Edwards.
As we’ve talked about many times in this Committee, Wyoming is obviously the nation’s leading coal producer. We produce 40 percent of America’s coal today and we produce the cleanest coal in the world. We produce more coal than the next six coal-producing states combined and we contribute the lion’s share of the resources to this important fund. So we have a real stake in it, we have a stake in its continuation, and also in how it’s administered.
And I do want to point out that in terms of consistency, it’s critically important as we’re talking about the good that this program can do, the importance of these resources, we cannot continue to pursue a path where too often in this committee we find ourselves criticizing the importance of the coal industry, criticizing those who are so heavily involved and engaged in the coal industry in this country. You can’t, for example, advocate to end the federal coal leasing program and also talk about how important it is to have these resources doing the things that they do. I think it’s important to recognize, as we do in Wyoming, that our coal is a tremendous natural resource and is crucial for powering the country.
Obviously Wyoming is a certified state and I’d like to ask, Mr. Edwards, if you could start by talking a little bit about first the relationship between Wyoming’s coal production and making sure that we can continue to sustain this AML fund, if you could tell the Committee how those things are connected.
ALAN EDWARDS: Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the question. Obviously coal production in Wyoming has ramifications all across the board to our local economies, jobs that support families, but for the purposes of what we’re here for, there’s an extremely direct relationship between the coal production and the AML. First, without a coal regulatory program we would not have been able to get an AML program, but with the production of coal in Wyoming and based upon how the act is actually structured, every uncertified program in the country benefits from Wyoming coal production because we get paid from a different source so 100 percent of our money goes through the AML trust fund to support nationwide the other uncertified programs. So there’s a very important link between the programs.
REP. CHENEY: Thank you and one of the issues that we also focus on at length that I’ve focused on is making sure that certified states, Wyoming obviously in particular, isn’t hurt by any language that might be included in extending this program. And so I’m pleased that that does not happen in this legislation, but I’d like to ask you if you could elaborate a little bit in terms of why it’s so important for certified states like Wyoming to make sure that we continue receiving resources, even though it comes from a separate source, and talk a little bit about what some of those resources are used for.
EDWARDS: Thank you for that. Wyoming, as I stated, is clearly not done. We’ve got a lot of new reclamation and what we are finding out as our knowledge increases and the technology increases, there’s a whole lot more out there that we haven’t found yet. So we use that for high priority coal, but also some very high priority non-coal because on the public lands that recreation is increasing and with our non-coal resources on public lands, they really have a hazard that might not be understood by like my colleague from Pennsylvania. So it’s used for all those purposes. As my other colleague said, it also supports local communities through jobs, contractor support, and it does provide economic return to the communities surrounding the AML sites.
REP. CHENEY: Thank you very much. I appreciate that and I appreciate the chance to ask questions and with that, I will yield back the balance of my time.