(Adds details of denial, local reaction)
By Karen Brooks
AUSTIN, Texas, June 12 The federal government's
disaster agency rejected a request for aid to replace
infrastructure destroyed near West, Texas, by an April
fertilizer plant explosion that killed 14 people, Texas Governor
Rick Perry's office said on Wednesday.
President Barack Obama issued an emergency declaration for
the area and the state after the April 17 explosion, releasing
funds for individuals, cleanup of the site and emergency
But in a June 10 letter to Perry, the Federal Emergency
Management Agency said the state of Texas and local governments
could provide the additional money needed to rebuild public
Additional funds were being sought to rebuild roads, water
systems and other public property damaged in the blast. Local
officials said costs are approaching $100 million for city and
A spokesman for Perry said in a statement that the governor
was "very disappointed" that the town of West would not get "the
assistance they need, qualify for, and deserve."
"This explosion has impacted everyone in West in some way,
and we are very disappointed that the administration is denying
the people of West this important assistance," Perry's
spokesman, Josh Havens, said.
The rejection is the latest in a host of disputes between
the Republican-led Texas state government and Obama's Democratic
administration, including FEMA's denial of a Texas request for
disaster assistance for the devastating 2011 drought and
Other disputes have included the administration's blocking
of federal funds for a Texas health program for poor women after
the state passed a law barring Planned Parenthood, a provider of
abortions, from participating in the program. In addition, the
U.S. Justice Department last year went to court to block a Texas
law requiring identification for voting, saying it discriminated
against minority voters.
Local officials in McLennan County, which includes the town
of West, said they were shocked and angered by the decision and
plan to appeal.
State Representative Kyle Kacal, whose district includes
West, said the city, which has a $2 million annual budget, will
not be able to shoulder the costs of repair, including damages
to infrastructure topping $17 million and more than $80 million
for destruction to property and infrastructure operated by the
local school district.
FEMA, in its letter denying the request for aid, said it had
"determined that the remaining cost for permanent work is within
the capabilities of the state and affected local governments."
(Reporting By Karen Brooks; Editing by Greg McCune and Leslie