Ehrenfeld Abandoned Mine Reclamation Project In Cambria County Wins National Recognition; Renewal Of Federal Reclamation Fee Needed Now
On August 31, the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement announced the winners of the 2020 Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Awards. The winner of the National Award for highest-rated reclamation project is the Ehrenfeld reclamation project along the Little Conemaugh River in Cambria County.
Approximately 70 acres of coal refuse piles located along the "Johnstown Path of the Flood Trail," posed multiple environmental threats to the area.
Frequent erosion clogged an unnamed tributary to the Little Conemaugh River, as a result, highly acidic water leached into and subsequently impaired local streams, burning areas of refuse piles and degrading air quality for the residents.
To address these hazards, DEP’s Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program removed the refuse piles, eliminated the surface burning conditions and improved the Little Conemaugh watershed. The reclamation project has resulted in new opportunities for recreation and tourism with the addition of a community park and safer walking trails.
The $13.4 million for the removal project was the first in Pennsylvania to receive funds from the 2016 Abandoned Mine Lands Economic Revitalization Pilot Program Grant. The state was one of three to receive $30 million in the initial federal grant program.
The Ehrenfeld project will get $3.5 million from the pilot program. The remaining funds will come from Pennsylvania’s AML program grant, that derives from a nationwide fee on coal.
The cost for the disposal of the material from the coal pile is $12.7 million, bringing the total cost of the project to more than $26 million.
“As a former manager of abandoned mine land projects, I understand how hard our state and tribal partners work to achieve exemplary results,” said OSM Principal Deputy Director Lanny E. Erdos. “I look forward to presenting our winners with these well-deserved awards.”
Reclamation Fee Reauthorization
Unless Congress acts to reauthorize the per ton federal abandoned mine reclamation fee that funds projects like Ehrenfeld, states like Pennsylvania that have hundreds of thousands of acres of abandoned mine lands in need of reclamation will not be able to continue these efforts.
Visit the PA AML Campaign website for more information from the point of view of local and regional groups involved in abandoned mine reclamation in Pennsylvania.
Visit the Our Work’s Not Done website supported by states involved in the federal abandoned mine reclamation program.
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-- Op-Ed: Federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation Trust Fund Can Be Reauthorized - John Oliver & R. John Dawes
[Posted: August 31, 2020]
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