Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...
By Ari Natter
June 11 — A long-standing earmark requiring the Defense Department to purchase millions of dollars of Pennsylvania coal and ship it over 3,000 miles to heat military bases in Kaiserslautern, Germany, would be repealed under Defense Department appropriations legislation approved by the House June 11.
The rider, which has been included in every Defense Department appropriations bill since 1972, has required the government to purchase millions of tons of coal, costing taxpayers more than $1 billion, according to a 1989 estimate.
“It’s about time we stopped burning dirty coal—and taxpayer dollars—to power this military base,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), the author of the amendment to H.R. 2685, said in a statement.
For decades, the Defense Department has urged Congress to remove this earmark and allow the use of cheaper fuel to power its military bases. The amendment was adopted by a 252-179 vote.
The author of the coal purchase requirement, former Pennsylvania Democrat Daniel Flood, left Congress in the 1980s, but his amendment designed to prop up the declining anthracite coal industry in his district has remained as a “zombie” earmark, Huffman's office said in a statement.
Taxpayers spend $20 million a year complying with the mandate for anthracite—a hard, carbon-dense, and more expensive variety of coal—which is loaded onto rail cars and later shipped from an East Coast port to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group that opposes the coal mandate.
Michael Clark, a former Flood staffer who has lobbied in favor of the coal requirement for the now-defunct Anthracite Industries Association and currently for the German city of Kaiserslautern, which operates the municipal utility contracted with the military to provide heat, defended the mandate and said only $1 million was spent complying with the program last year.
“Anthracite gets a very bum rap,” Clark said in an interview. “Everyone wants to believe because it is shipped on a boat it is needless and expensive. It isn’t.”
German coal on a per-ton basis is significantly more expensive than any foreign coal offer received by the utility—SWK Stadtwerke Kaiserslautern, Clark said.
“The use of U.S. anthracite coal to heat US military installations is not only cost-effective, it provides nearly $2 million annually to the US economy, along with direct and indirect jobs associated with the mining, handling and shipping of the coal,” according to a fact sheet provided by Clark. “That is money spent here—not for foreign fuels.”
Separately, an amendment by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) that would prohibit DOD spending on biofuels, electric vehicles, solar panels and other “green energy” programs was adopted by voice vote.
In all, the amendment would prohibit roughly $7 billion in spending, a McClintock spokeswoman told Bloomberg BNA.
The underlying legislation, which would appropriate $578.6 billion for the Defense Department, was approved by a vote of 278-149.
To contact the reporter on this story: Ari Natter in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at firstname.lastname@example.org
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)