To view Senator Capito’s remarks, click here or on the image above.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, questioned U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland about permitting issues specific to the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS), mining grants, and coordination between federal and state authorities.
ON A REPORT EXAMINING EXPEDITED FISH AND WILDLIFE PERMITTING:
Senator Capito: “But, what I'm really looking for is some substantive feedback on how we can improve this section seven process, minimize project delays. We're just getting a lot of complaints consistently in our state. So as a reaction to this, I was able to put into the appropriations bill, FY 23 bill, that would direct the Fish and Wildlife Service to report to congressional committees within 90 days on the section seven consultation and provide recommendations on ways to improve and expedite the process, trying to get rid of the backlog, because there's a big backlog there. So we're right at the time of this, around the deadline. So I wondered if when we could expect to see this report, and can you shed some light on some of those recommendations made to improve those consultations?”
Secretary Haaland: “The goal for the report is today. So we'll come out today… hopefully, we can make sure that is in your hands before the end of the day.”
ON FRUSTRATIONS WITH THE ABANDONED MINE LAND ECONOMIC REVITALIZATION (AMLER) PROGRAM:
Senator Capito: “You’ve made, through the AMLER Program, $750 million available to coal communities, obviously, critical in my state, and we've taken advantage of the AMLER Program. There has been here, and this goes to the bureaucracy as well, kind of a moving of the football of what the parameters of this program are. So that there's been delays in getting monies that have been approved by the governor, because I do believe it has to go through the governor – for the governor's approval for certain projects. Because of that, I guess I would just ask that the takeaway from my comments are – the consistency on what's required, what qualifies as a coal community? You know, we had a trail in one of our state forests that the backside of it was where the abandoned coal mine land was, seemed like a layup to me. I mean, you know, it's conservation project – great, well used for recreation. It's also an economic generator, because a lot of people will go and come and visit. So you know, there was a lot of communication issues. So I would just ask, in particular on the AMLER Program, that maybe, leaving here, you might take a look to make sure that the guidance is consistent from year to year so that people can know what they're applying for and how to make their applications successful.”
Secretary Haaland: “Absolutely. We want the program to work. And you're right, your state is perfect for these projects.”
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