WHEELING - U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd may have stepped down as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee late last year, but not before he was able to push through more than $224 million in earmarks.
Citizens Against Government Waste has released its "2009 Pig Book" that details government spending in 2008, and Byrd's name is mentioned frequently within the publication.
"An earmark may be pork to some political chatter box on television, but to many communities in West Virginia and other states, earmarks are economic lifelines," Byrd, D-W.Va., said. "Earmarks may fund a road that has fallen into dangerous disrepair or a bridge that is on the verge of collapse. An earmark addresses economic needs that many times fall between the cracks of the Washington bureaucracy.
"When that happens, the people I represent cannot call some unelected bureaucrat in the White House budget office or a Cabinet secretary. They call me! And I look out for those interests in West Virginia and have not and will not ever apologize for my efforts on behalf of the good people I represent."
Byrd directed most of the taxpayer dollars to defense spending, which totalled $151.7 million for 31 projects. This included $38 million for the Allegheny Ballistics Laboratory Restoration Plan.
ABL, owned by the U.S. Navy, is located in Mineral County. It was added to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Priorities List in May 1994 after being labeled a high-priority hazardous waste site.
Another $20 million was appropriated for "records digitization and repository modernization" at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology/Joint Pathology Center in Washington, D.C., and $7 million for the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing Systems Research and Economic Development Center at Marshall University. The facility specializes in robotics.
Other appropriations secured by Byrd were detailed as follows:
The "2009 Pig Book" also made note of U.S. Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., and $11.6 million he requested for 23 projects as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.
This included $1.75 million for the West Virginia University Environmental Center in Morgantown; $750,000 for the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources for a stream restoration program; $300,000 for the National Youth Science Foundation for the Youth Science Discovery Experience and Science Camp Curriculum; and $250,000 for the World Vision Appalachia at-risk youth programming.
Local police departments in Benwood, Cameron, Chester, Glen Dale, McMechen, and New Martinsville also received $75,000 each under the COPS Law Enforcement Technology Program through Mollohan, as did those in Bridgeport, W.Va., Grafton, Kingwood, Mannington and St. Mary's.