Thousands of mine sites across the country were abandoned before the law requiring surface mine reclamation passed in 1977. Every day, these sites jeopardize human health and safety, along with our air and water. The fee that funds cleanup of abandoned mines is set to expire in 2021, even though billions of dollars in cleanup costs remain — and the situation will only get worse unless Congress reauthorizes the fee.
We, along with numerous partner organizations, are backing two federal bills aimed at cleaning up these dangerous sites, and local communities are passing resolutions in support of the program. In January, we cheered as a bill to reauthorize the abandoned mine program for 15 years passed a U.S. House of Representatives committee. Now, the bill awaits passage by the full House.
We’re also lobbying to see that the RECLAIM Act joins the Abandoned Mine Lands bill on the House floor.
The RECLAIM Act would accelerate the cleanup of abandoned coal mines while creating jobs in areas hard-hit by the decline of coal mining jobs. To do this, the RECLAIM Act would fast-track the spending of money that is already allocated for cleaning up abandoned coal mines, prioritizing projects that boost local economies and have local support. But the RECLAIM Act can only do this if the Abandoned Mine Land program is successfully reauthorized.
We’re pushing for quick passage of both of these bills in the House to ensure that our legislators can bring them to the U.S. Senate when senators are considering must-pass legislation this year. If you live in a community affected by these issues and want to get involved, email Erin Savage at firstname.lastname@example.org. To stay up-to-date and receive legislative action alerts, visit appvoices.org/sign-up.