These abandoned mines pose a threat to public safety and the environment in the form of dangerous mine openings, landslides, the collapse of exposed high walls, mine fires, and subsidence caused by the deterioration of underground mines. These sites contaminate groundwater and discharge acid into waterways.
At the same time, economic challenges exist in many coal communities. Because of our technological advancements, we are now powering more and more of the nation with cleaner, cheaper energy. This shift is impacting the coal communities that kept the lights on for so long. For generations, coal dependent areas—whether in Appalachia or surrounding coal-based energy generation plants—have built their economies around coal, not only for the employment of their citizens, but for the revenue that supports their schools, infrastructure, and small businesses. As demand for coal decreases, these communities face an uncertain future.
Reclamation not only remediates the host of environmental and health problems associated with these sites but also frees up that land for new, more sustainable economic development opportunities in industry sectors like agriculture, recreational tourism, manufacturing, and clean energy production. Cleaning up mine lands can also create immediate job opportunities.
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