U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin reintroduced two bills Thursday to commit over $1 billion in federal funding for reclamation projects and economic development in coal communities.
Manchin said the bills are critical investments for West Virginia towns that have suffered from the decline of the coal industry.
“For generations, West Virginia coal miners have made tremendous sacrifices and done the heavy lifting that powered our nation to greatness,” Manchin said. “Both the RECLAIM Act and the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fee Extension Act are much needed investments in coal communities.”
The RECLAIM Act would release $1 billion in federal funds to create jobs by cleaning up abandoned mines. The second bill would extend the abandoned mine land fee set to expire in September.
This fee funds ongoing reclamation projects on abandoned mine lands.
Manchin introduced the two bills with senators from Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
The proposal is backed by both the largest coal miners union and environmental groups.
United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts said Congress must act and pass both bills.
“The economic situation for many families and communities in the Appalachian coalfields is already catastrophic,” Roberts said. “Things will not get better by themselves.”
Angie Rosser, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition applauded the reintroduction of the two bills.
“Furthering the clean-up of abandoned mine lands is an opportunity to prevent disasters and create jobs in places hit hardest by coal’s decline,” Rosser said. “These measures couldn’t come at a more important time for our communities.”