December 15, 2016

Manchin, Kaine, Warner, Brown, Casey Introduce RECLAIM Act

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the RECLAIM Act last week. This legislation will provide funds to states and Indian tribes for the purpose of promoting economic revitalization, diversification, and development in economically distressed communities through the reclamation and restoration of land and water resources adversely affected by coal mining.

“This legislation will help the many mining communities throughout West Virginia and the country that have been devastated by the decline in the coal industry,” Senator Manchin said. “Now, we must make sure these communities and their residents get back on their feet, and this bill will do just that by deploying funds that are just sitting unused in the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund. The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) estimates that we can create 4,600 reclamation jobs across the country by putting these funds to work. While this investment is not all that is needed, it’s a start. I’m proud to join my Senate colleagues in introducing this commonsense piece of legislation and look forward to ensuring its passage.”

“Mine reclamation supports 300 to 400 Virginia jobs per year, contributes to economic revitalization, and cleans up contaminated land and water. For decades, coal companies have been paying fees per ton of coal to support reclamation projects, and today, many of those dollars sit in a federal account, unused. Senator Warner and I are proud to co-sponsor this common-sense bill, with our Democratic colleagues from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, that will turn those dollars loose to support new reclamation projects in Southwest Virginia. We welcome any and all support from our Republican colleagues in making Appalachian economic development a bipartisan priority,” Senator Kaine said.

“We have a lot of work to do to ensure that communities that have historically relied on coal are not being left behind by rapid technological and economic shifts,” said Senator Warner. “The RECLAIM Act will speed up the release of a billion dollars already set aside to help Appalachian communities respond to environmental damage from coal mining, and fast-track investments in projects to restore the environment, create new jobs, and diversify the economy so that more people have greater access to economic opportunities.”

“Ohio coal communities helped build and power this country and they deserve our respect and attention,” said Brown. “This investment will provide a down payment toward creating new jobs and giving local communities across Appalachia the tools they need to grow.”

“Cleaning up abandoned mine sites and promoting economic development will create jobs and spur growth throughout former and current coal mining communities in Pennsylvania,” Senator Casey said. “Every person in these communities deserves a fair shot in our economy and cleaning up these abandoned sites is the first step. Businesses and workers in areas where abandoned mine cleanup is occurring benefit from a safer, cleaner environment as well as increased local economic activity from wages and purchases.”

Over the last eight years, the coal industry has undergone a dramatic decrease in production resulting in a disproportionate impact on communities that have historically relied on the industry for their economic livelihoods.  Decreased coal production has led to significant job losses in communities with few other economic opportunities.

The RECLAIM Act aims to support the development of new economic and community development opportunities in impacted coal communities. This legislation utilizes $1 billion of existing funds from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund to revitalize coal communities.