By Brian Sewell
In December, U.S. senators from four Appalachian states introduced the RECLAIM Act, a bipartisan bill that would direct $1 billion to clean up abandoned mine sites and repurpose them for an economically beneficial use.
The legislation, which was first introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) in early 2016, is a key component of federal efforts to stimulate economic opportunities in areas impacted by the coal industry’s decline, and it has been championed by long-time allies of the industry in Congress.
“We must make sure these communities and their residents get back on their feet, and this bill will do just that,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), a sponsor of the Senate bill.
There is also strong public support for the RECLAIM Act in coal states. A September 2016 poll found that 89 percent of registered voters in Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana support the measure.
The RECLAIM Act is expected to be re-introduced in the House and Senate in early 2017.