U.S. lawmakers have reintroduced competing bills in Congress that would revive efforts to provide jobs and economic revitalization centered on coal mine reclamation.
Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky.; Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa.; Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va.; Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va.; and Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., introduced the Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More Act on March 27 in the U.S. House of Representatives, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., introduced an identical bill in the U.S. Senate.
"It is no secret that coal communities in West Virginia have suffered significant economic damage after eight years of harmful anti-coal policies," Capito said in a release. "Strengthening these distressed regions, and creating an environment where job creation and business investment can thrive, is one of my top priorities. The RECLAIM Act will help fund local projects that have the potential to help the region's economy recover. I'm proud to join with my colleagues to introduce this important legislation."
Meanwhile, a group of senators reintroduced another version of the bill March 27. The senators are Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; Tim Kaine, D-Va.; Mark Warner, D-Va.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; and Bob Casey, D-Pa.
Manchin reflected similar sentiments about helping communities devastated by the decline in the coal industry. "This legislation will help the many mining communities throughout West Virginia and the country that have been devastated by the decline in the coal industry," he said. "Now, we must make sure these communities and their residents get back on their feet, and this bill will do just that by deploying funds that are just sitting unused in the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund. The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) estimates that we can create 4,600 reclamation jobs across the country by putting these funds to work. While this investment is not all that is needed, it's a start. I'm proud to join my Senate colleagues in introducing this commonsense piece of legislation and look forward to ensuring its passage."
Representatives for Manchin, Jenkins and Warner did not respond to queries regarding the differences between the two bills in the Senate.
The RECLAIM Act failed to pass through Congress in 2016.