House approves bill to boost mine cleanups, limit liability

By Hannah Northey | 04/10/2024 06:24 AM EDT

The chamber also cleared fisheries and migratory birds legislation.

Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.).

Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) during House floor debate Tuesday. House Television

The House on Tuesday approved legislation that would make it easier for states, the private sector and nonprofit groups to collaboratively clean up abandoned, polluting coal mines plaguing the West and Appalachia.

Lawmakers by voice vote passed H.R. 6233, the “Community Reclamation Partnerships Act,” from Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.). The bill cleared the House Natural Resources Committee also by voice vote in December.

During floor debate, LaHood said the bill would amend the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, or SMCRA, to provide nongovernmental entities — like Trout Unlimited — with legal protection as they partner with states to clean up abandoned mines.


Under SMCRA, miners have paid reclamation fees since 1977, money that feeds into the federal government’s Abandoned Mine Lands fund to clean up abandoned coal mines.