House Committee to Hold Hearing on Important Coal-Related Bills – Appalachian Voices

Expert witnesses will testify on the need for bills dealing with mine cleanup and acid mine drainage

WASHINGTON, DC – On June 9 at 9:30 a.m., the United States House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on important coal-related legislation, including a bill that would strengthen the mine cleanup system by difficulty and another that would ensure that abandoned mine land financing can be used for long-term acid mine drainage treatment facilities.

The committee will hear from expert witnesses, including Elaine Tanner, director of the Friends for Environmental Justice program, Erin Savage, senior program manager at Appalachian Voices, and John Dawes, executive director of Pennsylvania Watersheds.

One of the bills under discussion will be the recently introduced RENEW Act, which addresses the crisis in the mine reclamation system established by the Surface Mines Control and Reclamation Act 1977. As the coal industry has declined, it has become clear that the funding requirements for mine cleanup set by the SMCRA are far from adequate. The RENEW Act, sponsored by U.S. Representative Conor Lamb, D-Pennsylvania, is an effort to ensure that coal companies fail to shift the cleanup burden onto taxpayers and local communities.

Another bill, the Safeguarding Treatment for the Restoration of Ecosystems from Abandoned Mines Act, or STREAM Act, would ensure that some of the money spent on cleaning up pre-SMCRA abandoned mine lands in the bipartisan infrastructure law from last year could be set aside in interest-bearing accounts to pay for the long-term treatment that will be needed.

Tanner, who lives with his partner in eastern Kentucky, will discuss the impacts of coal mining on mined land, as well as his experiences with Friends for Environmental Justice. Savage will discuss his extensive research on exceptional reclamation needs and bonding programs for post-SMCRA mines, as well as current trends in surface mining in Appalachia. Dawes will focus on acid mine drainage treatment issues.

The hearing will be broadcast live and copies of the testimony will be available on the committee’s website Web page.

Appalachian Voices is a leading nonprofit advocate for a healthy environment and a just economy in the Appalachian region, and a driving force in America’s shift from fossil fuels to a clean energy future.

Lance B. Holton