For Immediate Release – March 30, 2022
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.
Since 1994, Friends of Cheat has been working to fulfill its mission of restoring, preserving, and promoting the outstanding natural qualities of the Cheat River watershed. As a supporter of our organization, you may wonder exactly what that means. The quick answer is that without your support – your financial contributions, your volunteering, your help spreading the word about our work – without you, our mission would mean very little. Our successes, our needs, and the river we all love – depend on your help. Conversely, this mission is a reflection of the many achievements Friends of Cheat can accomplish with your support.
Over the years, the backing and financial contributions of supporters like you has ultimately allowed our organization to expand its programming and make impactful on-the-ground improvements in the watershed. Today, because of you, we are engaged in all the core actions of our mission statement.
In just the last year, your financial contributions have helped Friends of the Cheat:
Other reasons 2016 rocked – FOC/DEPP partnership has been renewed for another 3 years! We hired a new technician, Brian Hurley – as Jeremy Sidebottom left to further his education and travel the world. FOC was named Top Water Conservation Group in the Southeast by Blue Ridge Outdoors.
And best of all – The Cheat River was one of 2016 EPA 319 Success Stories – declaring the Cheat River “reborn!”
DEP Pilot Project Team Coordinator Owen Mulkeen gives the scoop on FOC’s exciting new collaboration:
The season change is in full swing as temperatures drop and leaves turn fiery red and yellow. Fall is everyone’s favorite season: energy is high as harvest time draws near and opportunities for outdoor pursuits abound. Likewise, excitement is brewing at Friends of the Cheat as we inaugurate a large scale service project in partnership with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. Hard work from the staff at FOC and the WVDEP Division of Land Restoration over the past year and a half is finally coming to fruition. In August, FOC hired four full-time staff members to create the WV Division of Land Restoration & Friends of the Cheat Partnership Pilot Project, under which FOC will monitor and maintain DEP water treatment facilities residing in the Cheat River basin.
This is truly an exciting opportunity for Friends of the Cheat. Our hands will physically be turning the knobs that treat acid mine drainage (AMD) right here in our backyard. Our new staff members, most of whom grew up in Preston County, are intimately and acutely aware of the consequences of AMD. Friends of the Cheat would like to welcome the new team coordinator and the three water quality technicians to the Kingwood office: Owen Mulkeen, Chris Bern, Jeremy Sidebottom, and Garrett Thompson. These four individuals will be managing the treatment facilities that dot the countryside of Preston County.
Be on the lookout for new Friends of the Cheat vehicles, and make sure to smile and wave as they’re on their way to clean up some water!