Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation a Win-Win for Pennsylvania
Yesterday a bipartisan group of legislators in Washington reintroduced legislation – known as the RECLAIM Act – that would expedite much-needed funding from the Abandoned Mine Land Trust Fund for projects that restore mine-scarred land and enhance local economic development in coal field communities. The companion legislation is S.728 in the Senate, and H.R. 1731 in the House.
The RECLAIM Act follows the successful implementation of the AML Pilot Project that was enacted in the 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill. That $90 million pilot – spearheaded in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky – provided coal communities with grants to reclaim abandoned mine lands with economic development purposes in mind, create new job opportunities, and stimulate the local economy.
No new revenues are needed for this effort. The funding that would be provided through the RECLAIM Act already exists in the Abandoned Mine Land Trust Fund that was established in 1977 to help states saddled with the legacy of abandoned mine lands and polluted waters. In Pennsylvania alone, the cost to remediate that legacy exceeds several billion dollars. Also since its adoption, the Trust Fund has leveraged additional funds — by nearly a two to one margin – extraordinary private and public investment within the Commonwealth.
The RECLAIM Act builds on that momentum by accelerating funding out of the Trust Fund and creates a win-win scenario for the Commonwealth by enabling economic development and job growth resulting from remediation.
The Pennsylvania Environmental Council strongly supports this legislation. We have long been a proponent of continuation of the Trust Fund and its programs. We urge you to contact your member of the Pennsylvania delegation and convey your support for these important bills.