Legislation re-authorizes clean-up of abandoned coal mines

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Legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House would re-authorize the Abandoned Mine Land trust fund.

The fund was created in 1977 in the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act and is used to foster economic development in communities that have been impacted by coal-mine closures and clean up abandoned mines.

The current fund will expire in September 2021. The Abandoned Mine Land Reauthorization Act will expand funding for states that have not been certified for reclaiming high-priority abandoned coal-mine sites and extend states’ authority to collect fees at the current level for 15 years.

The bill also reimburses states for trust-fund fees that were sequestered since fiscal year 2013 and provides for the delegation of emergency trust-fund programs to states.

The bill was introduced by Reps. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) and Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA).

“Abandoned coal mines pose a great risk to our health, our environment, and our economic development,” Cartwright said. “Nearly 10 percent of all Pennsylvanians live within one mile of an abandoned mine. We need to invest in their well-being and make sure they are safe from the health hazards that come from living near these sites.”

Forty-three of the state’s 67 counties have abandoned mines. Pennsylvania 15th District has more mines than any other district in the United States.