On September 10, 2019, Pennsylvania Representatives Glenn “GT” Thompson and Matt Cartwright introduced H.R.4248, the Abandoned Mine Land Reauthorization Act into the U.S. Congress to reauthorize the nation’s Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Trust Fund.
“Pennsylvania’s heritage is rooted in coal, which powered an industrial revolution and won two World Wars. 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,” said Congressman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson.
“Reauthorizing the AML fund will ensure continued support for critical reclamation activities, while also providing both environmental and economic benefits to coal regions. With the current trust fund set to expire in September 2021, Congress must take up this bipartisan legislation,” he added.
The AML was originally established in 1977 via the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. The bill will not only clean up abandoned coal mines, but help economically revitalize communities that have been impacted by their closure.
Of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, 43 have abandoned mine land sites, with Pennsylvania’s 15th District (which Thompson represents) ranking first nationally. The 15th District is besst known as the home of the “Groundhog Day” town of Punxsutawney.
The current fund is set to expire in September 2021.
The AML Reauthorization Act will:
- 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 areas;
- Provide for the delegation of emergency AML programs to states; and,
- Reimburse states for AML fees that were sequestered since Fiscal Year 2013.
“This act is vital for many communities in my district and around the country,” said Congressman Cartwright.
“Abandoned coal mines pose a great risk to our health, our environment, and our economic development. 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,” he explained.
Photo of abandoned coal mine via Adobe Stock.