Capito, Manchin Join Bipartisan Effort to Address Water Pollution From Acid Mine Drainage
June 7, 2022 - Today, U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, cosponsored the Safeguarding Treatment for the Restoration of Ecosystems from Abandoned Mines (STREAM) Act introduced by U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.). This bipartisan legislation would allow states to set aside a portion of the abandoned mine land (AML) funding from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to specifically treat acid mine drainage, reducing long-term water pollution and investing in the economic health of local communities.
“One of the key wins we secured in our bipartisan infrastructure law was significant funding to clean up abandoned mine lands across West Virginia,” Ranking Member Capito said. “Acid mine drainage continues to pose serious health and safety risks in those communities with a proud tradition of coal mining. This bipartisan legislation would enable states receiving funds to specifically target and address the challenges presented by acid mine drainage, including water pollution. I appreciate the leadership of Representative McKinley, and Senators Braun and Casey on this bill that would not only benefit the health of our residents, but also help drive future growth in these communities.”
“West Virginia’s coal communities bear the scars of mining the coal that powered our nation to greatness. The STREAM Act will allow West Virginia to use funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to restore water supplies damaged by mining and acid mine drainage to ensure our communities have safe, clean water for drinking and recreation. I’m proud to support this commonsense legislation that would further help protect the health and well-being of West Virginia’s coal communities, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get it across the finish line and signed into law,” Chairman Manchin said.
The historic IIJA extended the AML Reclamation Fee for an additional 13 years and provided nearly $11.3 billion for the AML Reclamation Fund, including more than $1 billion for West Virginia to address its 140,355 acres of AML sites and more than 1,500 miles of streams contaminated from acid mine drainage.
The traditional AML Program, created in 1977 under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, 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. However, the IIJA has not been interpreted to allow for the same kind of set-aside provision for acid mine drainage treatment. Without this clear authority to set aside a portion of the new IIJA funding, states will not be able to adequately 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 IIJA into an interest-bearing 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.