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House representatives, White House clash over coal in Interior spending bill

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House representatives, White House clash over coal in Interior spending bill

Changes to the federal coal-leasing program remain asticking point in the U.S. Department of Interior spending bill as U.S. Houselawmakers add amendments and the White House threatens a veto.

The agency appropriations bill includes a section that wouldeliminate the review of the federal coal leasing program and disallow anyspending towards making possible royalty rate , according to the bill. Afollowing section adds a rider the White House says "short-circuits theadministration's recently-announced comprehensive review of the federalcoal-leasing program."

The rule would limit the programmatic environmental impactstatement on the federal coal lease program to the earlier of September 30,2017 or the date the notice of the completion of the review.

The White House warned on July 11 it would veto the bill ona number of grounds, including a section in the legislation on royalties thatreads: "None of the funds made available by this act may be used to implementany changes to royalty rates or product valuation regulations under federalcoal, oil, and gas leasing programs.

"Section 440 of the bill infringes upon BLM's authorityto adjust royalty rates where appropriate," the White House release reads.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management did not comment on theHouse bill in time for publication.

A Republican lawmaker also added an amendment to the billthat would divert money towards mine reclamation for Appalachian states.

Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., offered an amendment to theDepartment of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies AppropriationsAct, 2017, that "provides a distribution of funds among Appalachian statesfor reclamation of abandoned mine lands in conjunction with economic andcommunity development, offset by funds from the Environmental Programs andManagement account," according to government records.

The amendments concerned $90 million that would remainavailable for grants to states to reclaim abandoned mine lands and otherrelated activities, as well as economic and community development, in the threeAppalachian states with greatest amount of unfunded needs.

The WashingtonExaminer reported that Griffith said that some regions in Virginia's southwestcould not wait until 2017 for funds from Washington.

Voting on the bill and amendments in the U.S. House ofRepresentatives was ongoing on July 13.