Funding in the Continuing Resolution (CR), passed late last week, will stave off the possibility of a disappointing Christmas season for workers at the Decontamination and Decommissioning (D&D) project at Piketon.
The Senate passed the CR, which provides the U.S. Department of Energy with the necessary funding to avoid disruption of the clean-up activities at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon and fund the project through April 28, 2017, when the process will have to begin all over again unless the new administration offers a complete budget.
“Cleanup at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant is critical for jobs, economic development, and the future of southern Ohio,” U.S. Senator Rob Portman said. “I’m pleased that the Senate passed this bill to secure funding to continue the cleanup work at Piketon with a strong bipartisan vote that will avoid layoffs at this important project.”
Just like the U.S. budget process, the project has lived from paycheck to paycheck with no budget, receiving funding from the CR.
“This investment will maintain cleanup jobs today and help the Piketon community create even more good-paying, middle class jobs in the future,” U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown said.
The project is contracted to be funded by a combination of uranium sales on the open market and appropriations. Ever since the bottom fell out of the uranium market, it has been a juggling act to keep the project afloat.
“I’m pleased that this legislation includes funding to continue the cleanup work at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, which is critical for jobs, economic development, and the future of southern Ohio,” Portman said. “This funding will help ensure that we avoid layoffs at this important project.”
Another of Portman’s pet project, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, also received funds.
“Today’s vote is an important step forward in the fight against addiction. Not only does this measure put us on track to fully fund the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, but it adds another $500 million in funding to help combat the heroin and prescription drug epidemic, consistent with the CURES legislation,” Portman said. “In just one year, we’ve passed important new policy reforms and provided a significant boost in funding, and I believe it will make a real difference in our efforts to turn the tide of addiction in our country.”
Portman was not 100 percent happy with the bill.
“Lastly, I’m very disappointed that the full Miner’s Protection Act wasn’t included in the measure, and that’s why I voted no on cloture today. More than 22,000 retired miners and their families are counting on Congress to do the right thing, and it is disgraceful that this bill extends health coverage for only four months,” Portman said. “Moreover, the bill takes $47 million from the private health trust of one set of mine workers to pay for $45 million in benefits to a different, broader, set of mine workers, and then Washington pockets the remaining $2 million in seized health funds. We should keep our promises to retired coal miners, and I intend to keep fighting for them and for the full Miner’s Protection Act until it is signed into law.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.