The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would renew funding for restoring abandoned coal mine sites — but it would also limit a wide swath of environmental protections.
The sites of two abandoned coal tipples in Southwest Virginia were recently reclaimed thanks to settlement funds resulting from a water pollution lawsuit.
Congress included funding for several programs important for Appalachian communities, but failed to include the critical RECLAIM Act.
The RECLAIM Act would accelerate the cleanup of abandoned mines while spurring economic opportunities in coal communities.
A Kentucky coal company is partnering with an international renewables company to construct a solar farm on a coal mine site near Pikeville, Ky.
If passed, the RECLAIM Act could provide much needed funding to clean up abandoned mine lands and prepare these sites for economically beneficial uses.
On Nov. 1, Appalachian Voices together with Coal Mining Engineering Services, LLC, and Downstream Strategies released a groundbreaking new report demonstrating how abandoned mine lands can be reimagined to benefit the region.
In February, a bill was introduced in Congress that would expedite funding to clean up old coal mining sites and redevelop them specifically to foster economic growth. The RECLAIM Act is now in committee and the language is expected to change a bit in the coming weeks. As Congress considers those changes, lawmakers should look to communities impacted by the coal industry, in Appalachia and across the country, whose perspective is vital to the bill’s success.
A rare bipartisan proposal aims to tackle two pressing issues related to the flailing coal industry — the need for new economic opportunities in central Appalachia and repairing environmental damage from decades of mining.
An Obama administration proposal would direct funds to workforce training and reemployment programs in the coal-bearing communities of Appalachia and increase the budgets of agencies focused on economic development, but regional politicians are slow to embrace the plan.