Rep. George: Mine Reclamation Funds in Jeopardy
HARRISBURG – State Rep. Camille “Bud” George, D-74 of Clearfield County, has announced that a bill passed by Congress has threatened about $178 million in federal funds used for mine reclamation projects around the Commonwealth.
“This is beyond absurd,” George said. “Mine reclamation projects are among the most important in Pennsylvania because they create jobs and clean up our water. To see this funding disappear could halt decades of progress.”
Congress recently passed a transportation bill that, as amended, places a cap on funds states can receive through the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977. Through SMCRA, Pennsylvania has received hundreds of millions of dollars to help reclaim lands abandoned by coal mine operators more than half a century ago.
“Transportation funding is important, and I support those projects, but not at the expense of mine reclamation,” said George, Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. “There are other places where we can find that money.”
George said that the issue can be fixed by repealing the section of the transportation bill that amended – and capped – the funding received through SMCRA. He is currently drafting a resolution urging Congress to repeal the section and is collecting co-sponsors for the resolution.
“I intend to work with Senator Bob Casey and our other members of Congress to see that this important funding is restored,” George said. “It’s very simple – we cannot let Pennsylvania lose $178 million in mine reclamation funds.”
Pennsylvania has benefitted considerably from federal mine reclamation funds, receiving more than $67 million in just the last year for projects throughout the Commonwealth. The funds are distributed to the state and then awarded through the Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP has estimated that the total funds lost through the SMCRA amendment could exceed $200 million over the next 10 years.