Times Reporter

February 8, 2007

Space seeks money for Appalachia - Dover Democrat adds energy grants to legislation

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON – Making a down payment on his pledge to promote alternative energy, Ohio Rep. Zack Space on Wednesday managed to get $48 million for energy grants into legislation to assist the Appalachian region.

The Dover Democrat added the initiative to a measure that authorizes spending by the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state partnership that promotes economic development in areas of high poverty in the mountainous region spanning 13 states, including Ohio.

Tuscarawas, Holmes and Carroll counties are among the Ohio counties that are part of Appalachia.

“It’s new money,” Space said of the proposed grants. The first-term lawmaker said it marks the first time in recent memory that dollars for alternative energy development have been put into the Appalachian bill.

He said the grants also would promote job growth in the district.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, of which Space is a member, approved the Space amendment and the Appalachian bill Wednesday.

It now goes to the full House for approval. The Senate also must approve the bill or similar legislation. While the bill would authorize the project, money will have to be appropriated separately to actually fund the program.

Space said projects such as an ethanol producing plant, wind turbines or a study of clean coal technology could benefit from the initiative.

The plan would authorize $12 million a year for energy grants from 2008 to 2011.

Several Republicans on the committee complained that energy grants are the province of another House committee that focuses on energy.

They also questioned singling out Appalachia for the assistance. Space later responded to the criticism by noting in an interview that one of his political heroes, John F. Kennedy, was instrumental in pushing for the eventual creation of the Appalachian authority.

Kennedy started it “to fight poverty,” Space said. “The need is still there.”