Legislation would reauthorize mine trust fund
Two Pennsylvania congressmen, including Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard, have introduced legislation to reauthorize the Abandoned Mine Land trust fund established 42 years ago.
Thompson, whose 15th District includes Indiana County, and Eighth District U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Lackawanna County, are co-sponsors of House of Representatives or H.R. 4248, the Abandoned Mine Land Reauthorization Act.
It would keep going for an additional 15 years a fund originally established in 1977 via the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. It otherwise would expire in September 2021.
In Pennsylvania the fund covers abandoned mine land sites in Indiana and 42 other counties. Thompson’s district ranks first nationally in the number of abandoned mine sites.
“Pennsylvania’s heritage is rooted in coal, which powered an industrial revolution and won two world wars,” Thompson said. “With these great advancements also came the need for environmental restoration, and while we have made great progress over the past four decades, there remains much to be done.”
Cartwright’s district includes anthracite mining regions around Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and the Poconos. He said nearly 10 percent of all Pennsylvanians live within a mile of an abandoned mine.
“This act is vital for many communities in my district and around the country,” Cartwright said. “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.”
The bill would foster economic development in communities that have been impacted by mine closures.
The two congressmen said their proposal also would:
- Extend states’ authority to collect fees at current levels for 15 years.
- Expand funding for states that have not been certified for reclaiming high-priority coal AML (Abandoned Mine Land) areas.
- Provide for the delegation of emergency AML programs to states.
- Reimburse states for AML fees that were sequestered since fiscal 2013, or October 2012.