Language in a bill President Obama signed into law earlier this month may reduce Pennsylvania’s federal mine reclamation funding by up to $200 million.
Former Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Dave Hess analyzed an amendment added to a transportation bill and reached this conclusion:
The amendment sets a limit of a maximum of $15 million in total annual payments from the AML Fund to a certified state, a state that has completed reclamation of all of its high-priority coal mining AML features. …
The annual loss to PA’s AML Program during those years would be approximately $17.8 million if the reduction is $52 million and as high as approximately $23.2 million if the reduction to the historic coal fund is $67 million. This would then translate to a corresponding loss of approximately $5.3 – 7.0 million annually to Pennsylvania’s 30 percent Acid Mine Drainage Set-Aside Program.The total loss to Pennsylvania’s AML and AMD Set-Aside Programs over the remaining ten year life of the federal AML Program could well be in excess of $200 million.
What’s the funding reduction’s impact? Hess emails StateImpact Pennsylvania that “the federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program now provides most of the funding Pennsylvania now uses to reclaim abandoned coal mines and treat acid mine drainage now that Growing Greener Program funding has all but disappeared. Statewide there are a total of more than 184,000 acres of abandoned mine lands and 4,000 miles of biologically dead rivers and streams due to mine pollution.”