Congress Passes $1.4 Billion
in Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Funding

In early December, 2006, in the waning hours of their final session, the 109th Congress
passed a bill which contained an important provision for all Pennsylvanians. Contained within this massive, catch-all piece of legislation was language reauthorizing the federal Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fund.

This fund is the single most important source for federal dollars to clean up land and
waters impacted by old, abandoned mines, which are a threat to the environment, a hazard to human safety and well-being and a drain on local economies. Its renewal is an enormous boon to Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately, Pennsylvania has the worst abandoned mine land (AML) problem in the
nation, which is why it was so crucial that this fund and the associated cleanup program not only continue, but that it was also adjusted to correct the distribution formula to send the most resources to the places with the most serious AML concerns. 184,000 acres in 44 of our Commonwealths 67 counties are affected by this problem. More than 4,600 miles of streams are polluted by acidic drainage from old mine sites, and nearly 1 million citizens live within a mile of a dangerous abandoned mine site. Dozens of AML-related fatalities occur nationally every year.

The authorization originally expired in 2004 after having been in place for 27 years,
established as part of the 1977 mining law called the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. Since then, temporary extensions have been passed, but nothing that fixed the allocation formula.

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is proud to have played an active role in the
successful and unprecedented coalition that worked so hard over the past three years to secure reauthorization. Our Pennsylvania AML coalition was made up of more than 200 watershed groups and conservation organizations, and worked with our Congressional delegation, as well as the United Mine Workers of America and representatives of the coal industry, to reach a deal that satisfied all the stakeholders. The coalition was so effective that the Pa. AML group decided it will continue on as a non-governmental voice ensuring oversight on the spending and usage of the fund.

The AML fund is now fully authorized for the next 15 years and will give Pennsylvania $1.4 billion in desperately-needed dollars to repair this damage within our lifetimes.

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