Monday, September 27, 2021

WPCAMR: Federal Mine Reclamation Fee Expired Sept. 30 - Congress Considers The Future Of Mine Reclamation Program

First, we appreciate the outpouring of support over the past few months for the reauthorization of the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA).  

As most of you are aware, the fees that are collected on present-day coal mining are important to the states with Abandoned Mine Lands (AMLs).  

Those funds get distributed to the AML states in the form of yearly grants to help clean up AML and Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD). 

However, the fee collection authority for the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) expires on September 30th.  

While there is language to renew the fee collection for several more years in the Infrastructure Bill that was passed by the U.S. Senate and is being considered by the House, it is unclear as to whether the House of Representatives will pass that Bill. 

If the Infrastructure Bill, which contains the SMCRA reauthorization language, does not pass, then Congress has two options.  

The first option is to let SMCRA fee collection sunset, thereby putting state AML programs and future projects in serious jeopardy.  

The second option is to provide a short-term extension to SMCRA fee collection until such time that Congress can agree on the details surrounding the reauthorization.

Should it come to an extension, we hope that the House members will vote for that.

Call Your Members Of Congress

We appreciate your ongoing communications with your US Representatives and Senators regarding the importance of reauthorization.  But, as we draw close to the sunset date for fee collection, your communications take on even more importance.

Please contact your US Representatives and let them know of the importance of reauthorization and Abandoned Mine Reclamation in Pennsylvania and that if it should come to the question of an extension, we hope the House of Representatives will vote for that. 

Click Here to find your member of Congress.

Your continued support ensures that SMCRA reauthorization goes forward.

[More Background

[The federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fee that supports projects like this will expire September 30 and put an end to new revenues to support federal and state abandoned mine reclamation programs.

[In August, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill that includes an $11.3 billion investment in abandoned mine reclamation over 15 years and the legislation reauthorizes the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fee for 13 years at 80 percent of its level.  Read more here.

[But the U.S. House has not taken final action on this legislation leaving the issue in limbo.

[On May 28, the Biden administration submitted to Congress the President’s Budget for fiscal year 2022, including $312 million for the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation, which features $165 million to address coal mine reclamation and economic development efforts.  Read more here.

[More Information

[The Pennsylvania AML Campaign, a coalition of conservation districts, watershed groups, and other local nonprofit groups also support reauthorization of the AML fee collection.

[Visit the Our Work’s Not Done website supported by states involved in the federal abandoned mine reclamation program, including Pennsylvania.]

Visit the Western PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation and the Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation websites for more on mine reclamation.

Also visit DEP’s Abandoned Mine Reclamation webpage.


(Reprinted from the latest Western PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation Abandoned Mine Post newsletterClick Here to sign up for your own copy.)

Related Articles This Week:

-- Appalachian Voices: Congress Fails To Reauthorize Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program; People In Pennsylvania Have Worked For 5 Years So Far To Get Their Members Of Congress And General Assembly To Act On This Critical Issue  [PaEN]  [PA’s #1 Water Pollution Problem - Mine Drainage]

-- Chesapeake Bay Foundation: Bay Executive Council Fails To Hold Pennsylvania Accountable For Its Water Pollution Cleanup Commitments [PaEN]  [PA’s #2 Water Pollution Problem - Agricultural Runoff]

-- PA Senate Committee Reports Out Bipartisan Bill Allocating $500 Million In American Rescue Fund Monies For Local Environmental Improvement, Recreation Projects 

Related Articles:

-- U.S. House Hearing On Reauthorizing Federal Abandoned Mine Lands Program: We Don’t Deserve To Wait Any Longer For Clean Streams, Diversified Economies

-- Appalachian Voices: U.S. Senate-Passed Infrastructure Bill Includes Largest-Ever Investment In Reclaiming Coal Lands

-- Growing Greener Coalition: American Rescue Plan For Water & Green Infrastructure

-- Senate/House Return Sept. 20 - Will They Fund Local Flood Prevention, Watershed Restoration, Recreation Projects With Part Of The $5 Billion That’s Laying Around?

-- Register Now For 2021 PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Virtual Conference Oct. 27-28

[Posted: September 27, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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