Organizations ranging from the United Mine Workers to the Sierra Club are expressing support for bills introduced by Senator Joe Manchin affecting coal communities.
Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced the RECLAIM Act and Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fee Extension Act along with several of his Senate Democratic colleagues.
The Abandoned Mine Land Fee Extension Act would extend a fee levied on coal companies by 15 years. The fee funds the reclamation program that is set to expire this September.
The other bill is the Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More Act, meant to provide a boost for coal reclamation projects that provide economic development and growth in communities affected by the downturn in the coal industry.
The bipartisan RECLAIM Act would invest $1 billion in projects in twenty states. With abandoned mine sites made available for new uses, the RECLAIM Act funds projects on these sites with an aim of turning them into economic hubs to employ people in agriculture, tourism, retail, and renewable energy while injecting new resources into the local tax base.
President Biden has focused on abandoned mine lands clean-up as an opportunity to create jobs and promote economic development in the American Jobs Plan, which is the name for the administration’s infrastructure package.