Omnibus Appropriations Bill Contains Millions for West Kentucky Projects
The $1.1 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act 2017, that funds the government through September, contains funding for several projects in far west Kentucky. The Senate passed the bipartisan spending bill on Thursday. President Donald Trump signed the measure into law on Friday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office outlined numerous provisions for projects across the commonwealth in a release. Some of the items are specifically mentioned in the bill, others are presumably covered under broader allocations.
In far west Kentucky:
According to McConnell, more than $205 million supports cleanup and deactivation work at the Paducah Department of Energy site (PGDP) and an additional $50 million for the DUF-6 conversion facility. Funding related to nuclear energy in general is spread across the bill (in both energy production and relative to nuclear weapons), namely $905 million for the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 and the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. There are various appropriations to efforts related to operations under the AEA, DOE legislation that oversees the management of nuclear material. Funding also includes infrastructure and advanced nuclear reactor technology and research and development. Funding of $3.6 million also remains intact for expenses involving the Nuclear Waste Fund. There is also a section involving waivers for Congressional authorization of appropriations to mitigate a health risk or disaster.
McConnell’s statement says $225 million goes towards the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Olmsted Locks and Dam project for infrastructure development. The bill says a portion of more than $1.8 billion in USACE construction funding goes towards the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, whose resources are used for Olmsted. Some strings attached to this funding includes new construction related to projects that generate savings from flood and storm damage reduction and at least one environmental restoration project.
Additionally, $362 million goes to flood damage reduction projects on the Mississippi River south of Cape Girardeau (from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund). Funding also goes to research related to river and harbor flood and storm damage
McConnell’s release states more than $26 million goes towards the U.S. District Court House in Paducah, though the bill doesn’t specifically mention this allocation. A provision of more than $500 million goes towards protective guard services for federal courthouses and related facilities including the procurement, installation and maintenance of security systems and equipment in a program administered by the U.S. Marshals Service.
Approximately $25 million goes to the Delta Regional Authority to support economic and infrastructure development in communities in the Mississippi Delta region, including a number of counties in Western Kentucky.
The also bill federally designates the Edward T. Breathitt Parkway between I-24 and I-69. as part of I-69 (formerly part of I-24).
Language involving industrial hemp is also in the bill. In it, funds may not be used to prohibit the transportation, processing, sale or use of industrial hemp grown in accordance with the Agricultural Act of 2014 in or outside of states where it is already grown and cultivated. Kentucky is part of the industrial hemp research pilot program and Congressman James Comer has said he intends to file legislation to remove hemp from a Schedule 1 controlled substance (is it paired with its cousin marijuana).