Lets clean up our abandoned mines: Support the Reclaim Act | Opinion

Inside a coal mine in Lackawanna Co., Pennsylvania. Photo by John Karwoski, via Flickr Commons

By Justin Cucci

Have you ever driven by a mountain where the top of it was bare and exposed? Have you ever seen streams that have turned a different color? These are only a few ways coal mining can harm our environment.

The single largest source of contamination for our state’s rivers and streams is actually old mining pollution. About 5,500 miles of streams are continually polluted by coal mining in the state.

About a third of the nation’s abandoned mine land problems are found right here in Pennsylvania. And it will cost billions of dollars to clean these mines up and protect the public from  harmful materials.

Recently a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, led by U.S. Reps. Matt Cartwright, a Democrat from Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District, and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., introduced legislation to put forth $1 billion for the cleanup of these blighted sites. U.S. Rep. Glenn ‘G.T’ Thompson, a Republican from Pennsylvania’s 15th District, is also a sponsor of the legislation.

This bill would help cleanup the polluted rivers, fill in abandoned mines and make the surrounding environment clean. I love being outdoors and having to go by these polluted streams, rivers and barren mountain tops is devastating to see.

We must take action on this issue and support this bill to take us in the right direction. I encourage other Pennsylvania legislators to follow suit and cosponsor this bill and thank Cartwright, Rogers and Thompson for introducing this bill.

Justin Cucchi, of Atlanta, Ga., is a senior at Villanova University, and an intern with PennEnvironment, an environmental advocacy group based in Philadelphia.

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