A new mine legislation that passed in the final hours of Congress last December will not only improve the environment, it will also create more jobs. West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller is one of the senators who pushed for more federal money to clean up abandoned mine sites.
Rockefeller toured an abandoned mine site on the Kanawha/Fayette county border.
Senator Jay Rockefeller looks at one of the abandoned coal mine sites around the mountain state that will soon get cleaned up. He says improving mine sites has been a goal of his for years.
In the final hours of the 109th congress, they extended the abandoned mine land program. It will bring $986 million dollars to the state to clean up abandoned mine sites.
The program extends all across the country, but traditional coal mining states like West Virginia will benefit a great deal from the legislation. West Virginia has more than 1,000 mine sites that need to be cleaned up.
Those involved say one of the biggest effects of this program will be improving drinking water around the mine sites.
“Perhaps the biggest problem we have is infrastructure with water and sewer and we need to clean up the streams,” said Rockefeller.
He says the clean up effort will not only clean up the environment, it will also boost the economy.
“It’s wonderful,” said Rockefeller. “It's jobs, construction jobs, economic development jobs…”
A better environment in this case means a better economy.
The legislation will benefit 45 of West Virginia's 55 counties over the next 15 years, and the money to pay for the clean up effort comes from coal companies.