Let’s clean up our abandoned mines; Support the RECLAIM Act

Polluted streams and groundwater. Land erosion. Underground fires. Miles-long voids in the ground. Each of these environmental disturbances has been caused by abandoned mines in coal country. 

Over the last 20 years, many coal mines in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia shut down or went out of business as our country began a transition to renewable energy sources. As we have overlooked our mines, so too have we neglected to consider their lasting impact on local land, air, and water. 

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Rep. Matt Cartwright from Scranton and Rep. Glenn Thompson from State College have recently introduced the RECLAIM Act, which provides $300 million to clean up and reclaim abandoned mines. The Act would allow states like Pennsylvania to properly close their mines. The Act would also generate good-paying jobs in communities that have marginal economic opportunity. The RECLAIM Act serves as an investment in the communities most affected by the loss of coal jobs. 

I extend my thanks to Representatives Cartwright and Thompson for introducing this bill, and I encourage other Pennsylvania legislators to cosponsor this bill. 

As our states continue to transition to renewable energy sources, we must pay particular attention to past sites of energy production. Abandoned mines must be seen as opportunities, not as voids. 

Michael Wilkinson

Resident of Lower Merion

Climate Defender Intern at PennEnvironment