Friday, July 15, 2016

Wolf: $30M Awarded In Pilot Federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation, Economic Development Program

Gov. Wolf Friday formally announced the award of $30 million in federal funding for 14 projects to reclaim abandoned mine lands in 10 Pennsylvania counties.
The projects were selected for funding based on their potential to create long-term economic benefits in the coal communities in which they are located.
"When these mines closed, these communities lost jobs and were left with land that was difficult to repurpose,” Gov. Wolf said. “This program will help strengthen coal communities and put people back to work, while also improving the environment in these areas."
The projects were approved by the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement through a new AML Pilot Program authorized by Congress last December under the Consolidated Appropriations Act.  
The $30 million of AML Pilot funding is coming from U.S. Treasury funds and is in addition to the $44 million in funding from the federal AML Trust Fund that Pennsylvania received earlier in 2016 from the federal Office of Surface Mining for abandoned mine reclamation.
“By targeting projects that have an economic development aspect, more funding can be leveraged and more projects completed without additional state dollars,” DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell said.  “That’s government that works.”
The AML Pilot is intended to help demonstrate the benefits of the proposed federal RECLAIM Act, which if passed by Congress would help coal states across the country accelerate efforts to address abandoned mine lands, while simultaneously providing economic development in historic coal regions which have been hard hit by recent declines in the coal industry.
Gov. Wolf has strongly supported passage of the Act, which would direct an additional $67 million of federal AML funding per year to Pennsylvania over the next five years for projects which provide local economic benefits similar to the projects included in the pilot.
“Making impactful investments in Pennsylvania’s infrastructure and communities is critically important to the future economic success of the Commonwealth,” Department of Community and Economic Development Sec. Dennis Davin said. “Today’s announcement is great news and we look forward to supporting future development opportunities.”
The 14 projects selected include five surface mine reclamation projects, three acid mine treatment projects, two water supply replacement projects, remediation of two coal refuse piles and the remediation of an underground mine fire.
They will result in new or upgraded water supplies for more than 600 homes and businesses, reforestation and restoration of public lands, significant stream water quality improvement, restored fisheries, and increased tourism through public trail development and mining heritage preservation. Several projects are located adjacent to industrial developments or business parks.
The 14 pilot projects have the potential to leverage an additional $4 for every $1 of AML Pilot Program funding from other abandoned mine land and abandoned mine drainage funds and/or public and private economic development funds.
A list of projects funded is available online.
For more on abandoned mine reclamation in Pennsylvania, visit DEP’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation webpage.
(Photo: Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition, Butler County, Accepting The Challenge.)
Related Story:
DEP Pilot Mine Reclamation, Economic Development Program

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