|Posted:||June 30, 2021 01:39 PM|
|From:||Senator Patrick J. Stefano|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||Directing Water Civil Penalties Related to Coal Mining to the O&M Trust Account|
|In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation requiring civil penalties collected for Clean Streams Law water quality violations that are in any way connected with or related to a coal mining activity be deposited in the Reclamation Fee O&M Trust Account for treatment of postmining pollutional discharges.
Between 1982 and 2001, PA DEP administered an Alternate Bonding System to bond surface coal mine sites. Several operators forfeited their operations during this time, and the Alternative Bonding System was deemed insufficient to complete reclamation. Financial responsibility to clean up these forfeited, unreclaimed sites, known as ABS Legacy Sites, was subject to a court decision that determined the Commonwealth is financially responsible for the costs associated with reclamation and water treatment activities at these sites.
Pennsylvania has one of the largest inventories of Abandoned Mine Land sites in the nation as, prior to 1977, our state’s coal industry supported two world wars and the industrial revolution. However, ABS Legacy Sites are not eligible for Federal Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Funds, as those funds can only be dedicated to sites abandoned or forfeited before 1977 when Congress enacted the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.
In 2008 the Reclamation Fee O&M (Operations and Maintenance) Trust Account was established to fund the reclamation and treatment of ABS Legacy Sites in 25 PA Code, §86.17. A number of the ABS Legacy Sites include water treatment obligations, and a recent actuarial study pointed to future funding challenges with the Account.
By directing civil penalties collected for Clean Streams Law water quality violations related to coal mining activities to the Account, we ensure that those monies go directly to a program charged with addressing the Commonwealth’s obligations for water treatment at ABS Legacy Sites.
Current coal mining operations are subject to a full-cost conventional bonding system based on the cost of reclamation needed during the term of the permit, determined by annually revised bond rate guidelines.
I hope you will join me in co-sponsoring this legislation to ensure fiscally responsible management of our ABS Legacy Sites. If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact Jake Gery in my office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Introduced as SB1038