Congress has chance to pass RECLAIM Act this week

15193550_10157955728775160_3006719488336398615_nCongress is finalizing bills to pass on to the President’s desk this week, and they have a chance to pass the RECLAIM Act and Miners’ Protection Act (MPA) before the session ends and the uncertainty of the next administration begins. There’s a very real chance that this could happen, and advocates for the passage of both bills (including us) need the public’s help to make it a reality.

We need folks to call their Senators and Representatives and urge them to pass both bills.

Eric Dixon, Coordinator of Policy and Community Engagement at the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center in Whitesburg, Ky., explains RECLAIM and the MPA in a new op-ed published today in The Hill:

In order to build a strong, healthy economy, communities like ours are going to need some tools to do it. The country has benefited from what coal communities have sacrificed, and they deserve the nation’s support in charting a new course. The RECLAIM Act would bring $1 billion back home to communities struggling with the decline of coal. The bill would release funds already sitting in the Abandoned Mine Lands Fund–$1 billion over five years–to clean up polluting abandoned mines in ways that lead to longer-term community and economic development.

Coal-impacted communities have led the charge for RECLAIM and MPA from the beginning, Dixon says, pointing out that 28 local governments and municipalities across Central Appalachia have passed resolutions of support for the POWER+ Plan, of which RECLAIM and MPA are derived. So, it’s not just that both bills are needed, they are wanted.

RECLAIM and MPA are two commonsense bills, and it would be hard for anyone to say their provisions should be denied to coal communities that have supported the rise and growth of America for generations. As Dixon says:

We also know that the RECLAIM Act would create thousands of jobs across the country for laid-off coal miners and others. We know that the RECLAIM Act does not use a cent of taxpayer money. We know that it would create businesses and economic diversity in places that need it. We know it’s a strongly bipartisan bill, championed by my representative, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), and co-sponsored by 26 legislators from 12 states ranging from to West Virginia to Colorado. And finally we know that, despite some confusion in recent reports, the RECLAIM Act and the Miners’ Protection Act—another important bill for coal communities—are complementary bills; they are funded through separate pots of federal money.

We can’t wait another second in Central Appalachia for this kind of federal reinvestment. Please help us get Congress on board to pass RECLAIM and MPA into law. You can call your Congressional leaders before Congress adjourns this Friday at 1-888-445-5134.

You can also follow along live as three eastern Kentuckians hand-deliver a petition singed by nearly 10,000 Kentuckians to Mitch McConnell’s London, Ky., office today. The petition urges McConnell to put his support behind RECLAIM and MPA.

And, you can sign up to participate in Kentuckians for the Commonwealth‘s Telephone Town Hall conference call tomorrow by registering here. The call will inform participants about Just Transition in eastern Kentucky, and how they can lend a hand to make it happen.