Democratic News

Erdos commits to working with Manchin on UMWA benefits funding

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to consider the pending nomination of Mr. Lanny Erdos to be the Director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) at the Department of the Interior. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, stressed the importance of the Office of Surface Mining’s role in distributing money to the United Mine Workers Combined Health and Benefits Fund.

“The Office of Surface Mining is responsible for distributing money to the United Mine Workers Combined Health and Benefit funds. I cannot stress enough how important this is to me and my state. That’s why I am so proud that a fix to the miners’ pension fund and health care benefits is included in the year-end appropriations deal. Because of this, 82,000 current pensioners, 10,000 future pensions and an additional 13,000 health care beneficiaries will not see their benefits gutted or eliminated next year,” Ranking Member Manchin said. “And, as you know Mr. Erdos, OSMRE has a very important role to play in its implementation. I understand you are the nephew of Babe Erdos, a member of UMWA International Executive Board. I have no doubt you understand the importance of making sure the necessary transfers take place and that we keep the promise made in the Krug-Lewis Agreement of 1946.”

Mr. Erdos committed to Ranking Member Manchin that he will ensure OSMRE makes the necessary transfers to the United Mine Workers of America Health and Retirement Funds.

“As you know, the transfer of those excess funds into the United Mine Workers retirement fund is the lifeblood of what we are trying to accomplish right now. The only thing that I would ask is that you commit to ensuring the timely and uneventful transfer of funds these funds as directed by Congress as we have voted. Your commitment to that is essential to what we are doing right now,” Ranking Member Manchin said.

“Senator, I am aware. We talked about this when we met in your office and I certainly understand the importance of the legislation. What I have said is I am working with my staff relative to what those numbers represent and what it means as far as AML distribution. I’m certainly willing to work with you on what those numbers represent and I’d like to get briefed by my staff. I realize there is treasury money and interest money relative to AML,” Mr. Erdos said.  

Ranking Member Manchin also asked Mr. Erdos about the impending expiration of the Abandoned Mine Land Fund.

“The Abandoned Mine Land Fund is due to expire in 2021... With that expiring – right now it takes 28 cents of every ton of coal mined on surface and 12 cents underground. How do you look at these fees? There will be a lot of pressure from the industry that is it costing them but it doesn’t cost them a penny. It’s been built into the mix for many years,” Ranking Member Manchin said.

“I am well aware of the legislation that is out there relative to AML reauthorization. I spoke to AML in my opening statement and the importance of AML and the fact that I’ve worked in AML programs for 20 years. So I certainly understand the importance of the program. I’m going to continue to work with my staff and am certainly committed to working with you relative to reauthorization,” Mr. Erdos said.

To watch the hearing in full click here.

To watch Senator Manchin’s opening statement click here.

To watch Senator Manchin’s questioning click here.

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