Gov. Wolf Announced PA Received The Initial $244.9 Million From The Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law To Clean Up Abandoned Mine Lands
On February 7, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Pennsylvania has been awarded $244.9 million from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to clean up abandoned mines across the Commonwealth.
“We’ve long needed a solution to accelerate work to address the environmental and public health concerns of our legacy energy development, I’m pleased that the Biden Administration shares my commitment to reclaiming Pennsylvania’s abandoned mine-land for productive use,” said Gov. Wolf. “This bipartisan investment will address the dangers of abandoned mines while simultaneously supporting new, good-paying jobs, economic recovery, and community revitalization.”
While Pennsylvania’s more than 5,000 abandoned mines memorialize a period of great economic and industrial growth in the state and country, they’re now scars to Pennsylvania’s landscape with environmental and safety hazards.
In addition to being at risk for fires, these abandoned mines have dangerous highwalls and open shafts and are sources for both water and air pollution.
The Wolf Administration looks forward to working with the U.S. Department of the Interior to put the resources announced today to work to enhance the state’s Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program and returning abandoned mine land to productive use for things like recreation, farming, or clean energy production.
The $244.9 million announcement is a small piece of the nearly $4 billion Pennsylvania is estimated to receive over the next 15 years to address contamination and pollution caused by its coal mining legacy.
The Evangelical Environmental Network issued this statement by Rev. Mitch Hescox, EEN President/CEO, on the nationwide release of $725 million in mine reclamation funds from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law--
“As a child growing up in the tiny village of Blandburg, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, where my playgrounds were un-reclaimed coal strip mines less than 75 yards from our backdoor, I am pleased to see today’s announcement regarding the Department of the Interior releasing $725 million first funds of the $11.3 billion funds authorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“Throughout America, and especially in my home state of Pennsylvania, abandoned mine lands (AML) continue to threaten public health and destroy valuable forests in a terrible legacy that has lasted more than 100 years.
“Playing in orange and red pools of water filled with mutated tad poles left me personal memories of this legacy as well. Even today, my recently deceased father’s favorite deer hunting spot continues its path to oblivion as acid mine drainage from more AMLs slowly devour what’s left of these once-beautiful mountains.
“We hope these first funds will be available as soon as possible, not only to restore God’s creation and defend God’s children, but to provide family-sustaining jobs for AML communities that are amid the great energy transition away from fossil fuels.
“The AML funds to be distributed over the next 15 years supply a reliable source of much-needed careers as these communities both in Pennsylvania and across our nation seek ways to be reborn, renewed, and restored into once again vibrant communities.
“My little hometown of Blandburg is all but a ghost town today. It was never able to rekindle itself when our coal mines shut down – and nobody ever cared.
“Thank you to Congress and the Biden Administration for caring and prioritizing these frontline transitioning communities.
“As a postscript, using $16 billion of taxpayer money to clean up industry failures should have never occurred. We demand immediate bonding reform so that whoever causes the mess will be responsible to clean it up or pay to clean it up – that is common sense.”
For more information, visit DEP’s Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program webpage.
(Photos: Little Conemaugh River before after mine drainage treatment.)
[Posted: February 7, 2022]
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