By Rachel McDevitt, StateImpact Pennsylvania
February 7, 2024 - More than $101 million is going to help reclaim mine land and improve water quality in the state.
The Shapiro Administration is giving the money as grants to 16 projects across coal communities. The grant money comes from the 2021 federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Coal mining started in Pennsylvania in the 1700s. Now there are 200,000 acres of abandoned mine land and more than 5,000 miles of streams contaminated by runoff, according to the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation.
The largest grant is going to the Susquehanna River Basin Commission. It plans to use $68 million to build the Morris Run Acid Mine Drainage Treatment Plant, with a goal of improving the Tioga Reservoir and 20 miles of streams.
The Clean Streams Foundation plans to use $24 million to build an active acid mine drainage treatment system for Crooked Creek in Indiana County.
Active treatment involves adding chemicals to water to neutralize the acid released from mining.
Other groups are planning passive treatments, which include creating wetlands to filter out pollution over time.
In Clinton County, Trout Unlimited plans to use more than $600,000 for seven passive systems in Robbins Hollow that should help downstream trout populations.
Saint Vincent College in Westmoreland County is getting $500,000 to improve wetlands on Monastery Run.
In Schuylkill County, Ashland Community Enterprises plans to use $600,000 to reclaim several sites near a coal country tourist attraction. The Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine and Steam Train features a mine tour and historic mining equipment.
The full list of grant recipients can be found here.