The STREAM Act (Safeguarding Treatment for the Restoration of Ecosystems from Abandoned Mines Act) passed the House in July, it now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law
WASHINGTON – A bill by Senator Mike Braun and Senator Bob Casey passed the U.S. Senate last night. The STREAM Act would authorize states to set aside up to 30 percent of their annual Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Reclamation Program grant into an account for treatment of acid mine drainage.
“Indiana is one of the top coal producing states so it’s important that abandoned mine lands are reclaimed to their full potential and that safety and environmental hazards are addressed. I’m proud that the STREAM Act has been passed by the Senate so states have the authority to use funds they receive through the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program grant to build and maintain acid mine drainage treatment systems for polluted water,” said Sen. Mike Braun.
One of the most common threats posed by abandoned mine lands is the discharge of highly acidic water, known as acid mine drainage (AMD). AMD can have devastating effects on rivers and streams, eradicating ecosystems and contaminating groundwater and downstream water supplies. Further, abandoned mines negatively affect local economies, decreasing land values, reducing recreational opportunities and threatening the health and safety of individuals living in coalfield communities.
The Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Reclamation Program is the primary funding source to address AML sites. The fee-based program provides annual grants to states to assist in the remediation of abandoned mines that pose significant threats to public health, safety and the environment. AMD treatment is often addressed by building water treatment systems, which result in ongoing operation, maintenance and rehabilitation costs that endure in perpetuity. However, states often lack the financial ability to support these types of long-term liabilities, forcing them to forgo using AML funds on AMD abatement, which would otherwise be implemented. Fortunately, the AML Reclamation Program authorizes states to set aside up to 30 percent of their annual AML grant in an interest-bearing account to cover the long-term costs of AMD treatment facilities.
The recent infrastructure law did not allow states to set aside any of the AML grant funds to be used for AMD treatment. Clean water is essential to local economies, particularly those that rely on recreation and tourism to support their livelihoods. Without the authority to set aside a portion of funding to cover the long-term costs of addressing AMD, the amount available for long-term liabilities will dwindle, thereby severely impairing the states’ ability to make further progress in eliminating AMD.
The STREAM Act ensures that AML grants can be utilized in the same way as grants allocated from the AML Trust Fund. Specifically, this bill:
- Authorizes states to set aside up to 30 percent of their annual IIJA-AML grant into an account for the treatment and abatement of acid mine drainage
- Requires annual reporting on the use and amount of funds set aside for acid mine drainage abatement
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