FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday July 1, 2020

Media Contact: Rebecca Shelton, Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, rshelton@aclc.org, 859-893-0543

RECLAIM Act Passes the House as part of H.R. 2, The Moving Forward Act

Today the RECLAIM Act (H.R. 2156) passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of The Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2), a bill to address America’s infrastructure needs and create jobs in the wake of the economic and health crisis caused by COVID-19. 

The RECLAIM Act would invest $1 billion in projects that clean up abandoned coal mines and their polluted waters, and catalyze community economic development projects on or near reclaimed sites. These funds would be invested in over twenty states across the country, including $116 million for Kentucky over five years. In addition to the RECLAIM Act, the Moving Forward Act includes H.R.4248  to reauthorize the fee supporting the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fund.  According to a recent study, in combination these two bills would create over 13,000 jobs per year restoring abandoned mine lands and waters in Appalachia. 

For years, residents and local elected officials have advocated for these bills as job creation measures to support coal communities as they faced job loss and economic decline due to a disappearing coal industry. Over 20 local governments in Eastern Kentucky have signed resolutions in support of the RECLAIM Act. Now, these jobs are even more critical for coalfield communities as they grapple with further economic decline due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Now that the House has passed The Moving Forward Act, the bills will be sent to the Senate for consideration. “I am overjoyed that Congress is finally helping to clean up abandoned mines and polluted waterways,” said Joanne Hill, a retired nurse who is originally from Harlan County, Kentucky and now lives in Pulaski County. “For too long, Kentuckians have been pleading for action with no response. We’ve knocked on Senator McConnell’s door time and time again seeking his support for the RECLAIM Act and funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. Up to this point we’ve been left out in the cold. It’s time for that to change.”

This legislation is a critical step for coal community recovery after the decline of the coal industry and the economic effects of COVID-19. The RECLAIM Act and reauthorization of the abandoned mine reclamation fee was recently endorsed by over 100 organizations across the United States in a letter to congressional leadership. 

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