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Bill Contains Money for Coal Usage

June 22, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Interior Department spending bill passed Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee includes $1 million aimed at retaining the use of coal on Capitol Hill.

Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., inserted the provision in the $15.5 billion bill.

It calls for the architect of the Capitol and the Department of Energy to use the $1 million to study new coal technologies that could be used at the plant, which heats and cools the Capitol and surrounding buildings.

Capitol architect Alan Hantman last month submitted a plan to Congress to upgrade the plant that did not involve the use of coal.

But Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., convinced Hantman to withdraw the plan and study emerging coal technologies thought to produce less pollutants.

``The continued use of coal is important for the nation and vital to the livelihoods of thousands of Kentucky families,″ McConnell said in a statement Thursday.

West Virginia and Kentucky are the second- and third-ranked coal producing states, trailing only Wyoming.

The nearly century-old plant, a few blocks from the Capitol, uses coal to heat the buildings in the winter. It uses a combination of natural gas and electricity in the summer, because they emit less pollutants than coal.

The plant is one of the city’s single biggest emitters of nitrogen oxide, a component of smog. The city and its suburbs consistently violate federal smog standards.

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