March 27, 2017

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 today. 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 Virginia jobs, cleans up polluted sites, and restores them for productive use," Kaine said. "This bill simply takes existing money and puts it to work on these projects. I'm proud to join Senator Warner and our Appalachian state colleagues on this common sense bill."

“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 would provide a down payment toward creating new jobs and giving local communities across Appalachia the financial tools they need to grow.”

“Coal mining communities deserve a fair shot in our nation’s economy and restoring land and rivers impacted by coal mining is one step towards that,” Senator Casey said. “Pennsylvania has the highest number of acres of land and miles of stream in the country in need of reclamation. It’s time for Congressional Republicans to stop talking about their support for coal mining communities and start voting for policies that will improve the economy in places like Washington, Westmoreland and Greene counties. Too many coal mining communities have gone far too long without substantial investment, this legislation will change that.”

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.