A bill that would bring $100 million to Kentucky’s coal communities passed the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources last week and will advance to the full U.S. House of Representatives, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.
The bill, written by U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District, would pay for the reclamation of abandoned mine lands and, advocates hope, would foster growth in areas suffering from a sharp decline in coal production in recent years.
The Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More Act Of 2019 (RECLAIM) has received bipartisan support among legislators, and is backed by numerous civic groups in eastern Kentucky.
“The Act, if passed, would provide an immediate economic boost by employing thousands of people in reclamation jobs across the country,” Whitesburg-based Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, which advocates for the RECLAIM Act, said in a statement. “Many people in Central Appalachia possess the earth-moving skills necessary for this type of reclamation work, including laid-off coal miners ….”
The act would free up $1 billion of unappropriated money from the federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation (AML) Fund and distribute it to coal-producing states and Indian tribes over five years.