McKinley, Cartwright Introduce Bill To Ensure Long-Term Clean Up of Streams

Provides that Abandoned Mine Land restoration funding can support ongoing mitigation efforts

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman David B. McKinley (W.Va.-01) and Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-08) introduced a bill to ensure funding for Abandoned Mine Land (AML) clean-up of contaminated streams. The STREAM Act: Safeguarding Treatment for the Restoration of Ecosystems from Abandoned Mines Act, would allow states to set aside up to 30% of funding for AML restoration in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill to address long-term acid mine drainage (AMD) costs.

This measure ensures that the use guidelines mirror existing AML funding programs and guarantees water protection efforts are supported for to years to come. In West Virginia, for example, there are more than 1,500 miles of contaminated streams as a result of acid mine drainage.

“Acid mine drainage from abandoned mines has contaminated creeks and rivers across West Virginia, and remediation can require long-term projects. This bill provides States with the flexibility to set aside AML funding specifically for long-term water treatment so that West Virginia can take full advantage of the funding from the hard infrastructure bill,” said Rep. McKinley.  “Significant investments are being made to clean up Abandoned Mine Lands and the acid mine drainage and we want future generations of West Virginians to enjoy clean water for drinking, fishing and recreation,” said Rep. McKinley.

“Orange-colored acid mine drainage kills fish and other wildlife in thousands of miles of streams and rivers in Pennsylvania,” said Rep. Cartwright. “The legislation we are proposing will allow us to tap into billions of dollars in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to operate and maintain drainage treatment systems.  The result will be recreational and economic restoration of our waterways.”

"West Virginia uses its AMD set-aside account to operate and maintain AML water treatment facilities that have restored over 200 miles of streams and rivers to where they can now support aquatic life," said WVDEP Cabinet Secretary Harold Ward. "The money in this account is invested, which allows the fund to grow while providing the State the ability to build, operate, and maintain new treatment systems when earnings are sufficient. This model allows for the perpetual treatment of impaired waters without placing a financial burden on future generations. The ability to contribute the federal infrastructure funds to the Set-Aside account will allow West Virginia to start reviving the nearly 1,500 miles of streams impaired by AMD from AML sites across the state."

A companion bill has been introduced by U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Mike Braun (R-IN).

 

BACKGROUND:

Read the STREAM Act here.

Acid mine drainage (AMD)—the release of highly acidic water from abandoned mines— is one of the largest sources of water pollution throughout the country and threatens the health and safety of Americans living near abandoned mine lands.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provided nearly $11.3 billion in funding to reclaim abandoned mine lands and reauthorized the program for 15 years. Nearly $700 million has been allotted for AML projects in West Virginia that will be dispersed over the next five years. This historic level of additional funding will help ensure the health and safety of West Virginia’s coal communities while driving economic growth and creating good-paying jobs.

To date, nearly $160 million has been announced for AML restoration in West Virginia in 2022.

West Virginia has more than 173,000 acres of unreclaimed mine lands - which is more than half the size of New York City.

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