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Local groups hopeful Congress will lend hand to coalfield economic projects

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Local groups hopeful Congress will lend hand to coalfield economic projects

Senators from four Appalachia states are calling for $1 billion to repurpose abandoned coal strip mines for economic development projects in regions struck hard by coal's downturn.

A House version of the RECLAIM, or Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More, Act has gained bipartisan support. Members of Appalachian Voices recently identified 14 abandoned coal mining sites in Southwest Virginia ideal for funding from such legislation. The group applauded the introduction of the Senate bill in a press release Dec. 15.

"This is great news," said Adam Wells, economic diversification program manager for Appalachian Voices. "The timing of this clearly shows that both chambers of Congress are committed to passing RECLAIM in 2017 and sets a strong path forward for that to happen."

The Sierra Club also praised the bill in a separate press release Dec. 15. The legislation was introduced last week by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; Tim Kaine, D-Va.; Mark Warner, D-Va.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; and Bob Casey, D-Pa.