Infrastructure Law to Provide Major NEPA Funding for Reclamation of Abandoned Mining Land | News

OLD FORGE – Drilling at Old Forge dumps approximately 60 million gallons of contaminated, iron-laden mine water into the Lackawanna River each day, one of many examples in northeastern Pennsylvania of the long-lasting effects term of the region’s coal mining past.

Gathered near the borehole on Wednesday, local partners, stakeholders and environmental stewards joined with U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright, D-8, Moosic, in touting a major infusion of federal funding for reclamation abandoned mining land included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden signed into law last month.

According to the US Department of the Interior, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides $ 11.3 billion over 15 years for abandoned mining land and water reclamation projects. It will provide $ 3.8 billion in funding to Pennsylvania during that time, and Cartwright expects northeastern Pennsylvania to receive at least $ 1 billion of that total.

“It’s a game changer that will transform our hills and ravines,” Carwright said of the fundraising. “It will help clean up our streams, streams and rivers. … It is important for us to understand how transformative this will be for our region.

Beyond the environmental benefits, officials said the funding will help grow the region’s economy and create jobs. For example, reclamation projects can pave the way for development on abandoned mining lands, allowing them to house parks, offices, industrial buildings, renewable energy infrastructure and other assets.

Cartwright and others called for collaboration between landowners, government officials, nonprofits, private investors and community partners to realize the full potential of federal funding.

Bobby Hughes, executive director of the nonprofit Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, said his organization plans to continue working with owners of abandoned mining lands who may or may not be aware of federal funding opportunities. for reclamation projects.

“If there is any interest that they may have (in) doing something with this land and water that they would otherwise have no money for, that might be a way to do it,” said Hughes. “It could bring other partners to the table, and there could be private investment opportunities out there that could generate income for landowners.”

Meanwhile, a company called Renewable Energy Aggregators plans to inaugurate a privately funded $ 47 million wastewater treatment facility in the first quarter of 2022 “that will permanently clean up the Old Forge drilling outlet.” said President and CEO Adam Rousselle Sr.

The project, which has been in the works for several years, would take polluted water from an abandoned underground mine near the borehole and treat it at the facility to remove iron oxide and other contaminants, while generating renewable energy for electric vehicle infrastructure, he said.

Pennsylvania has more unrecovered abandoned mining land than any other state in the country, according to Cartwright’s office.