A new bill has been introduced by the chair of the US House of Representatives appropriations committee, which would make $1bn in funding available to revitalise troubled coal-producing communities in the country.
Congressman Hal Rogers said that the ‘RECLAIM Act’ will provide support to those communities that are hit by the downturn of the coal industry.
Under the bill, funding would be released from the government’s Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) programme in order to help communities generate new economic activities.
Hal Rogers, Matt Cartwright, Evan Jenkins, Don Beyer, and Morgan Griffith filed the ‘RECLAIM Act: Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More’.
Due a slump in nationwide coal production in recent years, mining communities throughout the US have been struggling to cope with job losses.
The legislation is releasing the fund to provide assistance to those communities that have traditionally relied on the coal industry for employment.
Under the plan, $200m would be allocated to participating states for a period five years annually. Every year, $5m would be provided through grants for coal-producing states that no longer have abandoned mine lands.
Rogers said: "In Kentucky alone, we’ve lost more than 11,000 coal mining jobs since 2009.
"Many coal communities in Appalachia simply do not have the resources to reclaim the abandoned mine sites within their borders. This bill allows these communities to be proactive in restoring these sites and utilise them to put our people back to work.
Cartwright said: "For the families that depended on mining jobs, benefits, and pensions that have disappeared as coal companies have closed their operations, we must act to provide new opportunities.
"Additionally, we must address the environmental legacy left by abandoned mines."
The legislation comes on the heels of a similar $90m AML pilot project included in the 2016 Omnibus bill, which will be implemented in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The project will provide grants to coal communities to reclaim abandoned mine lands.
Image: The ‘RECLAIM Act’ is to provide support for communities hit by the downturn of the coal industry. Photo: courtesy of nipitphand/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.