Week ending October 6, 2017
H.R.2937 – Community Reclamation Partnerships Act
The purpose of H.R. 2937 is to amend the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 to authorize partnerships between States and nongovernmental entities for the purpose of reclaiming and restoring land and water resources adversely affected by coal mining activities before August 3, 1977.
Acid mine drainage from abandoned mine sites is acidic water that has been contaminated with naturally occurring heavy metals found in disturbed soil and rock due to past coal mining activity. When water reacts with rocks that naturally contain sulfur-bearing minerals, sulfuric acid is produced. This sulfuric acid can cause rocks to release heavy metals into the water.
Thousands of inactive coal mines, abandoned before the era of modern regulation, can be found in communities across the United States. Today, over $10.5 billion worth of abandoned coal mine sites remain, each of which has no living responsible party.\1\ Many of these abandoned mines pose health and safety risks or environmental hazards to the surrounding communities, burdening landowners and inhibiting opportunities for further development. While over $4 billion has been spent reclaiming degraded sites, the large volume of remaining abandoned mine lands (AML) projects will continue to constrain State resources and burden local communities for decades to come. With the coal industry experiencing a shrinking market share and thousands of sites awaiting cleanup, there are concerns as to whether the full inventory of sites can be addressed by relying solely on the AML Fund, which is supported by a fee on each ton of coal produced.
While the States are responsible for reclaiming these abandoned coal mine sites and undertake numerous cleanup projects every year, the need for reclamation in coal communities has encouraged non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to contribute their resources towards these projects. These NGOs are willing to partner with States on these AML projects, but are hindered by several hurdles that prevent their participation, including potential liability and compliance responsibilities with respect to mine drainage treatment projects.
Thus the bill.
(Full text of H.R. 2937 congress.gov)
Sponsor: Rep. LaHood, Darin [R-IL-18] (Introduced 06/20/2017)
Status: Passed House /
VOTES and FLOOR ACTION
On Passage: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by voice vote.
Motion to recommit:
Text of the motion:
COST AND IMPACT
Cost to the taxpayers: CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would cost less than $500,000 a year over the 2018 2022 period; such spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds. Those funds would be used to cover administrative costs associated with approving agreements between the agency and states and authorizing NGOs to carry out projects to treat water pollution caused by mine drainage.
Pay-as-you-go requirements: Data not available
Regulatory and Other Impact: H.R. 2937 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. The bill would allow state governments to assume full liability for contaminated sites that community organizations choose to help remediate. Any costs that states might incur as a result of assuming full liability for those sites would result from participation in a voluntary federal program. Under the bill, contaminated sites would be eligible for federal grants to fund cleanup activities.
Dynamic Scoring: CBO estimates that enacting the bill would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.
Tax Complexity: Not applicable to this bill.
Earmark Certification: This bill does not contain any Congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined under clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of rule XXI of the Rules of the House of Representatives.
Duplication of programs: This bill does not establish or reauthorize a program of the federal government known to be duplicative of another program
Direct Rule-Making: This bill does not contain any directed rule makings.
Advisory Committee Statement: Data not available
Budget Authority: Data not available
Constitutional Authority: Assumed.
More Bill Information:
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