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Congress included billions of dollars for mine reclamation in last year’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. But the federal agency that oversees those funds still doesn’t have a director after 17 months.
Congress put the Office Of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement in charge of $11.3 billion toward mine reclamation for use over the next 15 years, but according to environmental groups, the money isn’t getting to communities fast enough.
And not just for mine cleanup, but also for economic development projects in coal communities.
The groups also say the agency has not adequately enforced federal law on companies currently in business. In many cases, they are years behind in their cleanup obligations.
Erin Savage, senior program director for Appalachian Voices, says the agency needs a Senate-confirmed director to manage the new funding and enforce federal law.
“So without a director, OSMRE staff aren’t able to make the necessary adjustments to the program to allow it to work more effectively and efficiently,” she said.
A director would need a confirmation hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. West Virginia’s Joe Manchin chairs the panel.