FRANKFORT, Ky (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers celebrated in a virtual ceremony Thursday the completion of economic development and tourism-related projects on abandoned mine lands.
The projects in Perry, Floyd and Clay counties received more than $14 million in Abandoned Mine Lands Pilot Program grant funds made available by the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.
“The ribbon-cutting celebration is a revival in the coalfields of Eastern Kentucky where abandoned mine lands are coming back to life in the form of new industries and new opportunities," Rogers said.
Beshear lauded the projects as a chance to help spur job and industry growth in Kentucky’s Appalachian counties that continue to grapple with economic hardship in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We need reasons to celebrate now," he said. “In the coming years, more and more of these projects will continue, bringing jobs and economic diversity to Eastern Kentucky.”
Since 2016, 43 projects in 21 counties have been selected for the pilot program. Projects selected in 2020 will be eligible for a share of up to $25 million in abandoned mine lands funds.
Hudspeth Blackburn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.