Rep. Cartwright Helps Lead Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Revitalize Coal Communities
Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Cartwright joined his Republican colleagues in re-introducing a bill to revitalize coal communities devastated by the decline of the coal-mining industry. The Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investment More (RECLAIM) Act would enable states and Native American tribes to facilitate sustainable economic development projects on Abandoned Mine Land (AML) sites. The RECLAIM Act was led by Congressman Rogers (R-KY), Congressman Jenkins (R-WV), Congressman Griffith (R-VA), and Congressman Thompson (R-PA); companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) and Senator Capito (R-WV).
The RECLAIM Act releases $1 billion from the existing AML Fund to boost economic growth in regions that have relied on the coal industry. The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) estimates that releasing $1 billion over the next five years would create jobs for equipment operators and other jobs necessary for mine reclamation.
“The coal-mining industry is vital to the history, character, and economy of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The decline of coal production impacted families whose livelihoods depended on these jobs, benefits, and pensions,” said Rep. Cartwright. “We must also address the often devastating environmental legacy of abandoned mines. Addressing abandoned mine sites and utilizing the reclaimed land for economic development will improve our environment, create jobs, and reinvigorate coal-mining communities. I have appreciated working with Congressman Rogers on this important bill for the past year, and I believe the bill introduced today goes a long way towards addressing the needs of communities affected by abandoned mines. I look forward to working with my colleagues to continue to improve the language as it moves through the legislative process over the coming weeks.”
In Pennsylvania’s 17th District, there are $174 million worth of abandoned mines. Under this legislation, nearly $300 million is expected to be distributed within Pennsylvania over the next 5 years. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, more than 3,300 miles of streams in Pennsylvania are impacted by acid mine drainage as result of mine and coal refuse pile discharges reaching waterways.
“After working with local leaders and stakeholders, we will be able to provide additional support for vital environmental reclamation, economic development, and job training in Appalachia,” said Sen. McConnell.
“Over the last eight years, we’ve lost more than 13,000 coal mining jobs in Kentucky alone, and through this bill, we have an incredible opportunity to make sure that our coal producing states can access funding that is readily available to restore our land and revive our economy,” said Rep. Rogers.