BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Gasp applauds U.S. Senators Joe Manchin, Tim Kaine, Mark Warner, Sherrod Brown, and Bob Casey who today announced that they are introducing the RECLAIM Act. The bill would release $1 billion over five years to help coal states like Alabama create economic development opportunities and clean up abandoned mining sites.
Introduced by Rep. Hal Rogers from Kentucky in the House of Representatives earlier this year, the RECLAIM Act now has more than 20 co-sponsors. A recent poll by the Sierra Club and West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy found that the RECLAIM Act is extremely popular in coal states throughout Appalachia. Appalachian Voices delivered a petition with more than 10,000 signatures to Sen. Mitch McConnell this fall in an effort to demonstrate the bill’s tremendous grassroots support.
As advocates for clean air and renewable energy, Gasp is committed to making sure that every Alabamian has a healthy community to call home and a fair shot at a prosperous future. Nobody should be left behind as as continue in our just transition to a more sustainable economy built on innovative solutions and energy independence. The RECLAIM Act could provide jobs to hundreds of laid-off miners who possess the skills needed to reclaim mines.
The decline in the coal industry, due to lower demand for fossil fuels and increased demand for renewable energy, has resulted in lost jobs, abandoned mines, and shuttered businesses. We believe the RECLAIM Act is critically important to lifting up coal communities struggling economically. We must also acknowledge that abandoned mines pose serious health risks to Alabama’s coal communities and work to reclaim the sites as soon as possible.
Coal workers like those all over Alabama have made great sacrifices — including their health and quality of life — to help power America. As we move toward a more sustainable energy future, we must honor those generations by helping to rebuild their communities and diversity their economies.