FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 7, 2022
Trey Pollard, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-904-9187
APPALACHIA — More than 80 organizations from 15 states from called on Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-WY), subcommittee Chair Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Ranking Member Mike Lee (R-UT) and the other members of the committee to quickly advance the Safeguarding Treatment for the Restoration of Ecosystems from Abandoned Mines (STREAM) Act (S. 3957/H.R. 7283) to help clean up acid mine drainage pollution in waterways across coal country. The groups are focused on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee because securing a hearing in that committee is the next step in the process of passing the bill in the Senate.
The bill has strong bipartisan appeal, with an equal number of Republican and Democratic co-sponsors — including Manchin. In July, after passing out of committee with unanimous support, The STREAM Act (H.R.7283) passed the House 391 to 9.
“West Virginia needs the STREAM Act to clean up our waterways and create jobs,” said Amanda Pitzer, Executive Director of Friends of the Cheat in West Virginia. “Without it, organizations like ours would not be able to access sizable new federal investments to build on our work to clean up acid mine drainage in the tributaries of the Cheat River. We appreciate Sens Manchin and Capito for co-sponsoring this legislation. Now, we hope they follow through by passing this popular, bipartisan bill to unlock these federal dollars and get them to work in West Virginia.”
“After such a resounding bipartisan approval from the House, we’re eager to see a hearing for this important bill, which ensures states and tribes from Alabama to Montana can clean up dangerous pollution in their rivers and creeks,” said Chelsea Barnes, Legislative Director, Appalachian Voices. “We are hopeful we’ll see action soon from Sens Manchin and Cortez Masto, given the importance of this bill for planning the future of the abandoned mine land program and the limited days remaining for legislative action this Congress.”
The STREAM Act was introduced in March by Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA) and Rep. David McKinley (WV), while the companion bill in the Senate was introduced by Sen. Bob Casey (PA) and Sen. Mike Braun (IN). The bill addresses a technical issue in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). While that legislation secured $11.3 billion in critically important investments for coal communities via the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) program, a limitation on this funding that does not exist in the current AML program prevents these investments from being put in set-aside accounts for the long-term treatment of AMD. The STREAM Act provides a simple fix to that issue, ensuring states can use these investments for the perpetual treatment that acid mine drainage requires.
“Hundreds of Alabama streams are orange and polluted with acid mine drainage from old coal mines, but the STREAM Act gives us a chance to clean them up and create jobs at no additional cost to the taxpayer,” said Nelson Brooke of Black Warrior Riverkeeper in Alabama. “Clean water is too important to Alabamians to let this opportunity pass us by – and Senators Shelby and Tuberville have the opportunity to fight for common-sense, bipartisan solutions by backing the STREAM Act to ensure we clean up legacy coal mine pollution across the state.”
Coal mines that have been shuttered for decades are still polluting streams, rivers, creeks and lakes in coal-impacted communities across the country, turning bodies of water red or orange due to a chemical reaction that creates acid mine drainage. Acid mine drainage never goes away, and requires ongoing water treatment — and innovative solutions spurred by investments in AMD cleanup create jobs and help revitalize local economies.
That’s why the current AML program allows states to set aside 30% of AML funding each year into accounts that accrue interest and can cover these perpetual costs. But when the infrastructure bill and its sizable AML investments were passed last year, it did not include a similar provision. The STREAM Act addresses that oversight, ensuring the new infusion of funding can be used for long-term AMD treatment.
“Sen. Casey has shown real leadership by fighting for clean water and new jobs in Pennsylvania by authoring the STREAM Act,” said Ezra Thrush, Senior Director of Government Affairs with PennFuture. “Our communities deserve better than dirty orange water where we expect clean streams, healthy fish, and stable ecosystems. It’s not too late for Sen. Toomey to do the right thing and sign on to this important bill that will make a difference in hundreds of communities across the commonwealth.”
The dozens of groups calling for action in the Senate include clean water advocates from across Appalachia and the midwest, national wildlife and conservation groups, faith-based organizations, and other grassroots-driven groups from around coal country.
“Abandoned coal mines threaten clean drinking water — and the people and wildlife that rely upon them — from Appalachia to the American West,” said David Willms, senior director of Western wildlife and public lands at the National Wildlife Federation. “The bipartisan STREAM Act will help remediate these abandoned mine sites and support state efforts to clean up toxic mine pollution. Thank you to Sen. Mike Braun and Sen. Bob Casey for leading on this important legislation. The Senate should swiftly take up this legislation and help communities protect our water, wildlife, and way of life.”
National and Regional Partners
The Alliance for Appalachia
American Canoe Association (ACA)
Chesapeake Legal Alliance
Christians For The Mountains
Citizens Coal Council
Climate Justice Alliance
Defenders of Wildlife
Earth Ethics, Inc.
Environmental Law & Policy Center
Friends For Environmental Justice
Green Industrial Manufacturing Ecosystem
Hispanic Access Foundation
National Wildlife Federation
The Nature Conservancy
Ohio River Foundation
Ohio River Valley Institute
Potomac Riverkeeper Network
Valley Watch, Inc.
Waterway Advocates, Inc.
Alabama Rivers Alliance
Black Warrior Riverkeeper
Shoals Environmental Alliance
Richmond Local Action in Neighborhood Development
Sacramento River Council
Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance
Mining Issues Team Illinois Chapter Sierra Club
Prairie Rivers Network
Indiana Wildlife Federation
Owen-Putnam Friends of the Forest
Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth
Kentucky Conservation Committee
Kentucky Resources Council
Kentucky Waterways Alliance
Beaverdam Creek Watershed Watch Group
Catoctin Land Trust
Chapman Forest Foundation
Friends of Quincy Run
Mattawoman Watershed Society
Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper
Butternut Valley Alliance
New York State Division, Izaak Walton League of America
NC Climate Justice Collective
Northern Plains Resource Council
FreshWater Accountability Project
Ohio Conservation Federation
Ohio Environmental Council
Ohio Scenic Rivers Association
Center for Coalfield Justice
Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania
Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR)
League of Women Voters Pennsylvania
Mountain Watershed Association
Pennsylvania Jewish Earth Alliance
Pennsylvania Council of Churches
Three Rivers Waterkeeper
Clearfork Community Institute
Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment
Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning
Woodland Community Development Corporation
The Clinch Coalition
Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards
Virginia Conservation Network
Coal River Mountain Watch
Dunkard Creek Watershed Assn., Inc.
Friends of Blackwater, Inc.
Friends of the Cheat
Guardians of the West Fork River Watershed
Rise Up WV
Upper Monongahela River Assn., Inc.
West Virginia Citizen Action
West Virginia Environmental Council
West Virginia Rivers Coalition