Press Release: RECLAIM Act Passes the House as part of H.R. 2, The Moving Forward Act

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Press Release

View this Press Release Online  —  Jul 2, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                        Thursday July 2, 2020
Contact: Robin Blakeman,, 304-522-0246

RECLAIM Act Passes the House as part of H.R. 2, The Moving Forward Act

On Wednesday, July 1, the RECLAIM Act (HR 2156) passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of The Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2), a bill to address America’s infrastructure needs and create jobs in the wake of the economic and health crisis caused by COVID-19. 

The RECLAIM Act would invest $1 billion in projects that clean up abandoned coal mines and their polluted waters, and catalyze community economic development projects on or near reclaimed sites. These funds would be invested in over twenty states across the country, including West Virginia. In addition to the RECLAIM Act, the Moving Forward Act includes H.R.4248  to reauthorize the fee supporting the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fund.  According to a recent study, in combination these two bills would create over 13,000 jobs per year restoring abandoned mine lands and waters in Appalachia. 

All but three West Virginia counties have remaining AML liabilities and thus could benefit from this bill. West Virginia has an estimated $1.6 billion in unfunded AML sites waiting for clean up. These bills together could bring in $201 million dollars to West Virginia over five years. 

For years, residents have advocated for these bills as job creation measures to support coal communities as they faced job loss and economic decline due to a disappearing coal industry. However, these jobs are even more critical for coalfield communities as they grapple with further economic decline due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Now that the House has passed The Moving Forward Act, the bills will be sent to the Senate for consideration. “House passage is welcome news for West Virginia’s coalfield communities, which are eager to get to work reclaiming abandoned mining sites,” said Gary Zuckett, Executive Director of the WV Citizen Action Group.  “We look forward to working with Senator Manchin, who has been a champion on these issues, to promote Senate passage. These reclamation projects are ‘shovel-ready’, the funding exists, all we need is for the Senate to vote. We encourage Senator Capito to step up and advocate for this important investment in the future of our mountain state.”

“As a nearly life-long resident and faith leader in West Virginia, I know that decades of economic decline and occupational and community health hazards combined with the recent dramatic downturn of the coal economy has made our state especially vulnerable to the economic and health impacts of COVID-19,” said Robin Blakeman, an organizer with Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC). “Many communities in WV were already suffering from dramatic downturns in their county, city and household incomes. Major infrastructure investments—as could come from the RECLAIM Act—in the region will be critical to economic recovery from this current crisis as well as ensuring long term resiliency to help residents weather future storms that may come.”

This past fall, organizations including West Virginia Citizen Action Group sponsored billboards and radio ads across the state to bring attention to the bill. In addition, OVEC and other groups have collected hundreds of postcards, sent thousands of emails, and met with Congressional offices numerous times to show support for The RECLAIM Act and the reauthorization of the Abandoned Mine Land Fund. 

This legislation is a critical step for coal community recovery after the decline of the coal industry and the economic effects of COVID-19. The RECLAIM Act and reauthorization of the abandoned mine reclamation fee was recently endorsed by over 100 organizations across the United States in a letter to congressional leadership. 


Updated: Jul 2, 2020 — 9:01 am

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