Federal funding for a buyout of Picher, Cardin and Hockerville residents inched closer to reality this week as U.S. senators approved the Water Resources Development Act.

U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, praised Senate passage (91-4) of the act.

“Passage of the WRDA, which includes several critical provisions for Oklahoma, was one of Sen. Inhofe's top priorities, according to a statement released Thursday from Inhofe's office. “Sen. Inhofe has worked closely with his Senate EPW colleagues to ensure quick passage of this important bill for Oklahoma and the nation.

The WRDA bill now goes to conference with the House where the conferees of both senators and representatives determine what should be in the final bill, according to Elizabeth French with Inhofe's office.

“I am proud of the steady progress at Tar Creek, Inhofe said. “Today, we took an important step toward securing additional funds for the continuing buyout and remediation at Tar Creek. This is another step forward in solving one of Oklahoma's most pressing environmental issues.

The bill, not yet a law, proposes that $30 million be directed to Tar Creek to complete a voluntary buyout of residents living in areas believed to be at risk of subsidenc

“Section 3100 of the WRDA authorizes $30 million to complete the relocation assistance for residents in the Tar Creek communities of Picher, Cardin and Hockerville at risk from subsidence and environmental contamination, French said. “It is very specific to provide that the assistance for residents will be consistent with the program currently being conducted in the area and consistent with Oklahoma state law.

“The WRDA bill is an authorization which means that the Senate deems this expenditure to be appropriate It is significant because it is an important step toward securing the funds for the residents.

The bill also includes $2,500,000 for water and sewer improvements and water-related infrastructure for the cities of Disney and Langley.