Scrapbook Photo 12/04/22 - 63 New Stories - REAL Environmental & Conservation Leadership In PA:
Congress Passes Reauthorization of Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fee

Pennsylvania will receive nearly $1.5 billion in federal funding from an account created to help states reclaim Abandoned Mine Lands thanks to legislation passed by the U.S. Congress before it adjourned.

The legislation was passed with the help of the entire Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation, but especially outgoing U.S. Senator Rick Santorum and Congressman John E. Peterson (R-Pleasantville).

The AML language the Congressed passed will allow Pennsylvania to claim more than triple the funding it would have received over the next 10 years. In fact, starting in fiscal year 2008 and going through until 2017, state officials will receive approximately $680 million - with further adjustments promising to yield as much as $1.5 billion over the next 15 years.

Annual AML funding to Pennsylvania would increase from an estimated $21.4 million in 2007, to $31.6 million in 2008, $52.4 million in 2010, $60 million in 2011 to a high of $90 million in 2013. In addition, the legislation allows states to increase its reclamation setaside from 10 percent to 30 percent for locally-sponsored mine reclamation and acid mine drainage treatment projects.

All told, the AML’s new funding formula would allow state and local officials to reclaim and recover nearly all of Pennsylvania’s high-priority sites a full 45 years earlier than they would have under the current arrangement.

“This is the most important economic development and environmental legislation to affect our state and other historic coal production states that has ever passed,” said John Dawes, chairman of the Pennsylvania AML Campaign, a coalition of 200 conservation and watershed associations. “This is life-saving legislation that goes beyond addressing the health impacts of living near these sites,” adding that more people have died in the past four years as a result of dangerous abandoned mine lands than in oft-publicized underground mining accidents.

The AML Fund was created nearly 30 years ago to finance the cleanup of hazardous abandoned mine sites across the country.

“Finally, and thankfully, we now have commonsense legislation that will go a very long way to fixing the long-standing problems of abandoned mine lands and waters across our state,” said Bruce Golden, regional coordinator for the Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation.

“It’s a new day in Pennsylvania,” he added.

NewsClips: U.S. House Extends Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program

Links: County By County Breakdown Shows Extent of Abandoned Mine Problem in PA

Groups Rally to Support Santorum Bill to Restore Mine Reclamation Funding

Video Blog: John Dawes Talks About Reauthorizing Federal AML Fee


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