Press Release

Backed by bipartisan momentum, STREAM Act advocates urge leadership to advance legislation

Bill with numerous bipartisan Senate co-sponsors already passed House with near-unanimous vote

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 16, 2022

Contact:
Trey Pollard, trey@pollardcommunications.com, 202-904-9187

READ THE LETTER

APPALACHIA — With the clock ticking down on the current session of Congress, 87 organizations are urging leadership of both parties to not miss an opportunity to score a bipartisan win for coal communities all over the country by getting the STREAM Act over the finish line. In a letter sent today, these organizations from across coal country urged Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to 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 in coal mining regions.

The STREAM Act has extraordinary bipartisan support, passing the House in July by a vote of 391 to 9 while being backed by an equal number of Republican and Democratic supporters in the Senate. Those include Sen. Bob Casey (PA) and Sen. Mike Braun (IN), who introduced the bill in March. The House companion that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support was introduced by Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA) and Rep. David McKinley (WV).

“Passing the STREAM Act will allow for the set aside and dedication of funds for mine water treatment for the long term,” said Bobby Hughes, executive director of Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR). “Our coalfield communities have had to live with decades of untreated water pollution from abandoned mines. If we can prioritize the long-term operation and maintenance of these AMD discharges, there will be a much higher confidence and willingness of partners in the community who want clean water.”

The STREAM Act 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. The STREAM Act is more important than ever, as funding from the IIJA has already begun being allocated to states.

“With investments from the infrastructure bill already flowing to communities, the time to act on the STREAM Act is now,” said Chelsea Barnes, legislative director at Appalachian Voices. “This is a can’t-miss opportunity to score a bipartisan win for our communities that will ensure states and tribes from Alabama to Montana can clean up dangerous pollution in their rivers and creeks and create jobs while doing it. The public clearly wants solutions, so it is past time for Congress to build on the strong bipartisan momentum for the STREAM Act and get it over the finish line before the end of the year.”

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.

“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.”

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.

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National and Regional Partners
The Alliance for Appalachia
American Canoe Association (ACA)
Appalachian Voices
Chesapeake Conservancy
Chesapeake Legal Alliance
Christians For The Mountains
Citizens Coal Council
Climate Institute
Climate Justice Alliance
Defenders of Wildlife
Earth Ethics, Inc.
Environment America
Environeers
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
ReImagine Appalachia
Sierra Club
Trout Unlimited
Valley Watch, Inc.
Waterkeepers Chesapeake
Waterway Advocates, Inc.

Alabama
Alabama Rivers Alliance
Black Warrior Riverkeeper
Shoals Environmental Alliance

California
Richmond Local Action in Neighborhood Development
Sacramento River Council

Illinois
Eco-Justice Collaborative
Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance
Mining Issues Team Illinois Chapter Sierra Club
Prairie Rivers Network

Indiana
Indiana Wildlife Federation
Owen-Putnam Friends of the Forest

Kentucky
Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth
Kentucky Conservation Committee
Kentucky Resources Council
Kentucky Waterways Alliance

Maryland
Beaverdam Creek Watershed Watch Group
Catoctin Land Trust
Chapman Forest Foundation
Friends of Quincy Run
Mattawoman Watershed Society

Missouri
Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper

Montana
Northern Plains Resource Council

New York
Butternut Valley Alliance
New York State Division, Izaak Walton League of America

North Carolina
NC Climate Justice Collective

Ohio
FreshWater Accountability Project
Ohio Conservation Federation
Ohio Environmental Council
Ohio Scenic Rivers Association
Rural Action

Pennsylvania
Breathe Project
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
PennFuture
Pennsylvania Council of Churches
Three Rivers Waterkeeper

Tennessee
Clearfork Community Institute
Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment
Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning
Woodland Community Development Corporation

Virginia
The Clinch Coalition
Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards
Virginia Conservation Network

West Virginia
Cacapon Institute
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

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