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 Post subject: Santorum seeking $1 billion for mine cleanup - PA
PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 9:56 am 
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Santorum seeking $1 billion for mine cleanup
Measure targets state's biggest environmental problem

Saturday, June 17, 2006
By David Templeton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

With support from a coalition of environmental organizations, U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum has introduced a Senate bill that would provide Pennsylvania $1 billion over 15 years to reclaim its worst abandoned mine sites.

The bill Mr. Santorum, R-Pa., has introduced -- Senate Bill 2616, the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act Amendments of 2006 -- would allocate $60 million or more a year to reclaim mine sites posing public dangers and health risks.

The state Department of Environmental Protection says abandoned mine sites represent the state's largest environmental problem.

"I'm very excited about the chances of taking this agreement and passing it in the next month," Mr. Santorum said during a news conference yesterday on the North Shore near Heinz Field. "This is a huge step in the right direction."

He said his bill is being added as an amendment to another Senate bill so it can go into effect soon after it is approved.

The bill also would guarantee health benefits for retired coal miners whose companies no longer exist or can no longer pay for health coverage, he said.

Currently, the federal government allocates $20 million to $25 million a year to the state under a 1977 bill that set a per-ton tax on coal producers and established the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund. But the funding to the states never was guaranteed.

As a result, much of the coal tax goes into the general fund. The 1977 legislation recently was extended to continue until Sept. 30, 2007, to preserve the tax.

Mr. Santorum said his bill will bring "economic justice" to the situation.

"Money paid by coal companies should be used to clean up these mines, but that's not happening in Washington," he said.

The result, he said, is environmental damage and human loss at mine sites that feature sinkholes, mine faces, open shafts, ponds full of water polluted with acid mine drainage, and abandoned buildings.

Pennsylvania has about one-third of the nation's abandoned coal mines -- 27,376 sites in all affecting 184,431 acres. West Virginia is second and Kentucky is third, according to an overview of the problem and the Santorum bill.

Abandoned mines produce acid drainage that Mr. Santorum said has created 4,000 miles of biologically dead rivers and streams statewide.

Money from the bill could be used to reclaim some of the 4,515 acres of abandoned mine sites in Allegheny County, 5,482 acres in Fayette County, 2,810 acres in Beaver County, 3,315 acres in Washington County and 4,862 acres in Westmoreland County.

Projects would reclaim flooded strip mines, spoils and refuse piles and subsidence-prone deep mines. Underground mine fires could be extinguished, abandoned structures would be razed, and acid mine drainage would be eliminated, the DEP said.

Although the money would not be enough to reclaim all the state's abandoned mines, it would be sufficient to clean up Priority I and II sites over the 15-year life of the bill, said J. Scott Roberts, deputy secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection's Mineral Resources Management.

Mr. Roberts said the cleanup of abandoned mine sites represents one of Gov. Ed Rendell's priorities.

He said several projects in southwestern Pennsylvania are part of $45 million in reclamation projects already under way statewide.

They include the Wingfield Pines project in Upper St. Clair, where 1,500 to 2,000 gallons of acid mine discharge are being released per minute. The $650,000 project will correct the problem, he said.

The DEP also has authorized a $1.18 million project to clean up abandoned mine damage on Pittsburgh International Airport property.

In Chartiers, Washington County, a $4.5 million project is under way to reduce the chance of subsidence damage to houses. The project involves filling an abandoned deep mine with a cement-grout mixture.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 11:50 am 
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Location: Within 60 Miles of the Northern Anthracite Field
wonderful

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 9:24 am 
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No, it doesn't look good. However I have a feeling most of these dollars will be used for reclaiming old Strip Mine operations, filtering Acid Mine Drainage, putting out Mine Filres, etc. However whoever manages the money, assuming it is approved, they would probably determine where the funds would go. I really don't like the part asbout grazing abandoned buildings (mine buidlings?) Many times all that is left from a very historic operation is the buildings still standing. Once those are gone, the landmark of the area is gone forever..

Greg


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 9:52 am 
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Location: Within 60 Miles of the Northern Anthracite Field
yea, also remember the "other" coal fields. most of that will probably go out to around pittsburg. but like you said pits and fires are high on their list. oh well, im sure they wont get them all!

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