Three bills introduced to help build, improve infrastructure in Appalachia

Published: Jul. 26, 2019 at 1:03 AM EDT
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Three bills were introduced Thursday that would help build and improve transportation infrastructure and promote economic development in Appalachia.

The bills would reauthorize Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), help finish the Appalachian Development Highway System and set up a regional energy hub.

The bills are called the Appalachian Regional Commission Reauthorization Act, the Advancing Infrastructure Development (AID) in Appalachia Act and the Appalachian Regional Energy Hub Initiative Act.

The bills were introduced by U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Senator Capito has been working to finalize a bipartisan federal highway bill reauthorization.

“Together, these bills will help support the ARC; improve our roads, highways, and bridges; and establish other critical infrastructure that will help grow the economic and create jobs. All of these measures have been top priorities of mine for a long time, and as chair of the EPW Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, I’ve been working closely with my colleagues to include them and other critical provisions in our federal highway reauthorization. I appreciate Senator McConnell’s support of this important legislation, which I know will help improve the lives of West Virginians and folks throughout Appalachia,” Senator Capito said.

“While many areas of our Commonwealth are still reeling from the previous administration’s War on Coal and the downturn of the industry, I’m committed to preserving ARC and its important work, which supports distressed counties throughout Eastern Kentucky. As Senate Majority Leader, I’m consistently working to deliver for Kentucky families. Each of these bills has the potential to benefit some of the hardest-hit areas in our Commonwealth, and I am proud to join my Senate colleague in introducing them," Senate Majority Leader McConnell said.

Here is a more in-depth description of each bill:

The Appalachian Regional Commission Reauthorization Act would not only reauthorize, but improve the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) through 2025 at a level on $180 million. $20 million would be dedicated to broadband deployment. The reauthorization would make sure that the ARC will continue to support things such as infrastructure projects and job training.

The Advancing Infrastructure Development (AID) in Appalachia Act would help to speed up the completion of the Appalachian Development Highway System by providing funding from states with large unspent balances to states, like Kentucky and West Virginia, that lack sufficient funding.

The Appalachian Regional Energy Hub Initiative Act would authorize $5 million for the ARC to help develop an ethane storage hub in central Appalachia. The project would help grow the regional economy, create jobs and strengthen the country's energy security.