By Dan Radmacher
The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act included the largest-ever investment in cleaning up abandoned mine lands — $11.3 billion over 15 years distributed to states and tribes based on historic coal production.
This spending could clean up a host of legacy environmental problems and spur economic growth and job creation in coal-impacted areas, especially within Appalachia.
In July, the Biden administration released important recommendations to guide that spending. If followed, advocates say the guidance could maximize the development of good-paying jobs and economic development in disadvantaged communities while cleaning up environmental hazards.
However, the infrastructure law failed to make allowances for this money to be set aside in interest-bearing accounts and used for the long-term treatment costs of acid mine drainage. But in July, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the STREAM Act in a 391-9 vote. The bill would allow states and tribes to set aside their abandoned mine cleanup funding from the infrastructure law for ongoing treatment required to deal with acid mine drainage.The bipartisan STREAM Act now awaits action in the Senate.
“This simple fix would not cost taxpayers any additional money and would bring new resources to communities hit hard by the decline of coal,” said Chelsea Barnes of Appalachian Voices.