House Approves Huffman Amendment to Halt Dirty, Costly Coal Shipments to U.S. Military Bases in Germany

June 10, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today offered a bipartisan  amendment to strike a nearly half-century old congressional earmark that costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year to ship Pennsylvania coal 3,000 miles to American bases in Germany. Since 1972, each Department of Defense Appropriations Act has included an earmark requiring the Department of Defense to purchase anthracite coal from Pennsylvania to heat military bases at Kaiserslautern, Germany.

This earmark was added to the annual Defense Appropriations bill by Rep. Daniel Flood, a Pennsylvania Democrat.  Flood left Congress in 1980 but the “zombie” earmark remained until today, when the House voted 252-179 to pass Huffman’s amendment to finally remove the earmark and save taxpayers millions of dollars each year.

“For decades, the Department of Defense has urged Congress to remove this earmark and allow the use of cheaper fuel to power its military bases. Today we finally achieve that goal and have removed this half-century old earmark that never should have existed, saving taxpayers millions of dollars each year,” Huffman said.

“The passage of this amendment is proof-positive that Republicans and Democrats can work together to cut wasteful spending while protecting the environment. I thank the members that voted with me to finally end this wasteful boondoggle. It’s about time we stopped burning dirty coal—and taxpayer dollars—to power this military base.”

At its peak, the earmark mandated the government purchase more than a million tons of coal each year to power overseas defense installations. Today the Department of Defense purchases 5,000 to 9,000 tons of coal annually to meet the requirement in Kaiserslautern, costing taxpayers millions each year. According to a 1989 joint study of the Departments of Defense, State, and Commerce, mandates to use U.S. coal at defense installations in Europe cost taxpayers approximately $1.1 billion between 1962 and 1988.

From Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, every one of the last six Presidents has sought to remove the coal provision in annual budget submissions to Congress.

Huffman’s amendment, co-led by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), was supported by the following national organizations:

  • Taxpayers for Common Sense
  • Taxpayers Protection Alliance
  • National Taxpayers Union
  • Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW)
  • The Coalition to Reduce Spending
  • EarthJustice
  • League of Conservation Voters
  • Sierra Club
  • Environment America
  • Public Citizen
  • Peace Action West