The House of Representatives Wednesday passed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill that includes two provisions that would specifically help coal-reliant communities in the Ohio Valley.
The bill, called the Moving Forward Act, includes funding for roads and bridges, rural broadband, drinking water system repairs, renewable energy, and affordable housing, all of which Democrats say would create millions of jobs and help the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
But Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky indicated he would not bring the bill to a vote, calling it “political theater” too focused on cutting carbon emissions.
“That kind of rhetoric from our senator is really damaging to years of collaboration across party lines,” said Rebecca Shelton, the coordinator of policy and organizing for the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, which represents coal miners. “Ultimately, failure to move these bills forward in the Senate would be of true detriment to Kentuckians.”
The components specifically geared towards coal communities are the RECLAIM Act and the reauthorization of the Abandoned Mine Lands Fund, both of which have long been on the wish list for regional advocacy groups. The RECLAIM Act would invest $1 billion in cleaning up land and water polluted by coal mining, and would help turn old mine lands into economic engines in a region long marked by poor job prospects. The RECLAIM Act has passed the House in previous years with bipartisan support, but has stalled in the Senate.
Photo credit: Mead Gruver / AP Photo
Other RECLAIM News
MarketWatch Capitol Report (July 2020): House sends $1.5 trillion-plus infrastructure bill to reluctant Senate
PA Environment Digest (2018): EPCAMR Asking Enviro, Land Conservation, Watershed, Sportsmen’s Groups, Local Govts To Adopt Resolution Urging Congress To Act NOW On Bill To Reclaim PA’s Abandoned Mines
Sierra Club Statement on RECLAIM Act