Some Hoosiers and Appalachia residents are advocating for federal dollars to restore abandoned coal mines.
The RECLAIM Act would free up $34 million over five years for Indiana.
Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign representative Matt Skuya-Boss says it would cost nearly $200 million to restore all of Indiana’s abandoned mines.
“We can actually open up a substantial sum of money to put towards reclaiming those sites, and then being able to invest in economic diversification in these communities,” says Skuya-Boss.
Supporters of the bill say reclaiming old coal mines will open former coal towns to new economic opportunities.
“You could see environmental recreation areas developed, solar farms developed, other types of business growth,” Skuya-Boss says.
Republican Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky introduced the legislation in February. To date, none of Indiana’s representatives or senators have signed on. But Skuya-Boss is hoping to change that.
“At the very least we want them to vote for passage should the bill make it to the full floor,” he says.
Nationally, the bill would distribute $1 billion over five years to states and tribal lands. The money would come from unappropriated Abandoned Mine Land Funds.