WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) to introduce the Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More (RECLAIM) Act of 2019 to provide opportunities for coal reclamation and economic development in communities impacted by the downturn in the coal industry.
“As technologies evolve and our economy changes, we cannot forget about the coal mining communities that for years fueled our nation. The RECLAIM Act reiterates our economic commitment to these mining communities by fast-tracking the release of $1 billion from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund and using it to fund projects that reinvigorate communities, promote economic growth and counteract the environmental effects of coal mining locally,” said Warner.
"Mine reclamation supports hundreds of jobs in Virginia each year, strengthens our economy, and helps clean up the environment,” said Kaine. “This bill would let money already sitting in the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund be used to boost economic development in coal communities.”
The RECLAIM Act of 2019 releases $1 billion from the remaining, unappropriated balance in the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund to states to be spent on reclamation projects in communities impacted by abandoned mine lands (AML) and the recent decrease in coal mining production. The RECLAIM Act will also require states to carry out reclamation projects that will create favorable conditions for economic development.
These projects must be conducted in areas that have been adversely affected by a reduction in coal mining related activity and/or in communities that have traditionally relied on coal mining for a substantial portion of their economy. Under the RECLAIM Act, $195 million will be distributed to uncertified states and tribes with approved AML programs each year from Fiscal Year 2020 to 2024.
Virginia has over 71,000 acres of land that has been impacted by coal mining. It is estimated that it would take approximately 55 years at the current rate of funding and reclamation construction to reclaim Abandoned Mine Land sites in the Commonwealth. The estimated price tag for reclamation is over $313 million. The RECLAIM Act would provide additional funding to the Virginia Abandoned Mine Land program and help speed up reclamation efforts in Southwest Virginia.