By Eliza Laubach
Workers, including former coal miners, are cleaning up decades of coal waste at an abandoned mine in Pennsylvania, funded by special appropriations from Congress. In August, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell visited the Ehrenfield Abandoned Mine Reclamation Project to celebrate the pilot project of the $90 million Abandoned Mine Lands Economic Revitalization program.
At this particular site, 2.4 million yards of coal waste remains from past mining operations, endangering residents who live within 500 feet of the pile, according to the U.S. Department of Interior. The mine reclamation is part of a three-year project that will also enhance access to the “Path of the Flood” trail in an effort to increase ecotourism.
This program reflects the goals of the RECLAIM Act, a bipartisan bill now before Congress that aims to develop local economies while reclaiming abandoned mine lands. The Abandoned Mine Lands Economic Revitalization program is funding similar projects in West Virginia and Kentucky, which have yet to begin.