Casey, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Clean Up Water Pollution from Abandoned Mines

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Lick Run Portals

For Immediate Release – March 30, 2022

Contacts
Natalie Adams: 202-228-6367 (Casey)
Maloreigh Todd: 202-961-8287 (Cartwright)
Zach Riddle: press@braun.senate.gov (Braun)
Kate Giaquinto: 202-981-4114 (McKinley)

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Mike Braun (R-IN) introduced the Safeguarding Treatment for the Restoration of Ecosystems from Abandoned Mines (STREAM) Act with U.S. Representatives Matt Cartwright (D-PA-8) and David McKinley (R-WV-1). 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. This legislation would allow states and tribes to set aside a portion of the abandoned mine land funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Job Act to treat AMD specifically, reducing long-term water pollution and investing in the economic health of their communities.

“Thanks to the infrastructure law, historic coal-mining regions will receive billions to reclaim abandoned mine lands. Still, addressing acid mine drainage remains out of reach for many states, representing a significant financial burden due to the high, ongoing costs associated with operating and maintaining AMD treatment facilities. Without the certainty that funding will be available to cover these long-term costs, states will be unlikely to make the necessary investments to restore our vital waterways. This legislation will provide financial certainty for states, enabling them to clean up water pollution and in doing so, improve property values, restore fishing and recreation opportunities, create long-term jobs and support local economies that rely on a clean water supply. I will work to get this legislation passed to ensure Pennsylvania families have access to clean water—a right that is guaranteed by the Pennsylvania Constitution,” said Senator Casey.

“Indiana is one of the top coal producing states so it’s important that abandoned mine lands are reclaimed to their full potential and that safety and environmental hazards are addressed. I am introducing the STREAM Act with Sen. Casey so states can continue to build and maintain AMD treatment systems for polluted water,” said Sen. Mike Braun.

“Orange-colored acid mine drainage kills fish and other wildlife in thousands of miles of streams and rivers in Pennsylvania,” said Congressman Matt Cartwright. “The legislation Senator Casey and I 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.”

“Acid mine drainage from abandoned mines has contaminated creeks and rivers across West Virginia, and remediation can require ongoing treatment of that impaired water to ensure the long-term protection and restoration. 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.

The Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program, the primary funding source to address AML sites, authorizes states to set aside up to 30 percent of their annual AML grant to accrue interest and cover the long-term costs of acid mine drainage treatment facilities. The infrastructure law provides an additional $11.3 billion for the AML trust fund for use by states. However, the infrastructure law does not allow the same kind of set-aside provision for AMD treatment as the AML Reclamation Program. Without this authority to set aside a portion of the additional funding, states will not be able to access the resources they need to mitigate the damage from acid mine drainage.

The STREAM Act would authorize states to set aside up to 30 percent of their annual AML grant from the infrastructure law into an account for treatment of acid mine drainage and require annual reporting on the use and amount of funds set aside for acid mine drainage abatement.

Read more about the STREAM Act here.

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