It has a long name but the resulting acronym – RECLAIM – means hope for coal country and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers is determined to bring that federal legislation to life in this session.
Known officially as “Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More” Act, Rogers reintroduced the bill in March and it recently was passed by the House Natural Resources Committee.
The RECLAIM Act was first proposed in 2015 and originally introduced in 2016 but failed to win passage that year.
At stake in the bipartisan bill is $1 billion in available funding from the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation (AML) Fund to reclaim former coal mining land and spur economic development in the coalfields.
AML funds were generated by coal producers paying tonnage fees to help reclaim property mined before 1977 but not reclaimed, the so-called “orphan lands” in each coal-producing state.
Now heading to consideration in the full House, the RECLAIM Act would allow fast-tracking the release of those dormant AML funds.
Rogers said of the bill:
“I sponsored the RECLAIM Act to help revitalize coal communities across the nation that have been devastated by the downturn of the coal industry. Nearly 12,000 coal miners have been laid off in East Kentucky over the last eight years. Families that relied on good paying jobs in the mines are now going bankrupt.”
“Our small counties that once received sizable revenues from coal severance tax dollars are struggling to provide basic services. These are hardworking people who are looking for opportunities.”
The congressman believes the RECLAIM Act would result in the creation of thousands of good paying jobs in coal communities.
And it will be financed with monies already available in the federal treasury.
We believe that, as he has been doing in Washington for nearly 38 years, Congressman Rogers will find a way to bring this great idea to life for the benefit of everyone affected.