Legislation Restores Damaged Lands, Creates Jobs in Rural Communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. — New legislation would provide jobs, public health improvements, and habitat restoration in coal communities. The RECLAIM Act, introduced today by Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), would create jobs throughout rural communities by investing in abandoned coal mine lands and recovering these lands for community economic development, recreation and habitat. Senator Manchin also introduced a reauthorization of the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fund, which would require coal producing companies to help offset the costs of reclaiming abandoned mines. 

“Communities that have powered our nation for generations should not left behind as our nation transitions to net-zero emissions,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We applaud Senator Manchin’s leadership in advancing the RECLAIM Act and reauthorizing the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fund as a critical means to revitalizing coal country rural economies, creating jobs and restoring wildlife habitat across the nation.”

“These bills would invest in the rural communities hit hardest by coal decline by creating jobs and preventing future disasters. Our communities need jobs, environmental health improvements and new opportunities to grow the outdoor recreational economy — all fronts this legislation would help deliver on,” said Angie Rosser, executive director of West Virginia Rivers Coalition. “We applaud Senator Manchin’s leadership in prioritizing the clean-up of abandoned mine lands and investing in the economic revitalization of coal country.”

“The RECLAIM Act could create impetus for long-term sustainable change for communities impacted by and dependent on coal mining as they grapple with the transition to cleaner energy and their place in that future," said PennFuture President and CEO Jacquelyn Bonomo. "Restoration of abandoned mine lands will benefit people and landscapes in so many ways — from the jobs and skills needed to do the reclamation, to land that can now support viable use — be it small business ventures, larger development, or for conservation and climate resilience purposes. The time has come for this program to become a reality.”

“These investments in abandoned mine lands are a win-win. We can protect and restore the health of our environment while caring for communities hardest hit by the declining coal industry,” said Elliot Brinkman, executive director of Prairie Rivers Network. “Reclamation and redevelopment will provide many communities the opportunity to re-imagine their rural economies while improving the condition of their lands and waters.”

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