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Tobash Bill to Boost Jobs, Reclamation in PA Anthracite Industry Advances

HARRISBURG – The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee today approved legislation authored by Rep. Mike Tobash (R-Schuylkill/Berks) to support job creation and mine reclamation throughout the anthracite region.

“Across the nation, people are talking about jobs and the need to ‘create’ more of them,” Tobash said. “I believe that instead of government creating jobs, we need to find ways to get out of the way of private industry so it can invest in its operations and grow its workforce. My bill does that for the anthracite industry and would be a win-win for a region that has been struggling with high unemployment for decades.”

House Bill 1813 makes required bonding more readily available to mine operators, thereby allowing them to use their own capital to invest in growing and expanding their operations. The bonding is required by the Commonwealth to ensure sufficient funds are available to reclaim a mining site in the event the operator defaults. However, the high cost of the bonding is actually inhibiting the volume of reclamation activity and driving up the cost to taxpayers.

It can cost taxpayers as much as $10,000 per acre to reclaim a mine site. However, when a site is reclaimed by the industry as part of a re-mining process, it costs taxpayers nothing.

“With worldwide demand for anthracite at its highest level in years, there is ample room for growth in the industry,” Tobash said. “My legislation helps open the door to increased mining activity that would lead to more reclamation of abandoned mine sites and the potential creation of new, good-paying jobs. This is truly a golden opportunity for the Commonwealth.”

Tobash said he is pleased that his bill has the support of the industry, including the Pennsylvania Anthracite Council and the Pennsylvania Coal Association, as well as environmental advocacy groups such as the Schuylkill Conservation District and the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation.

Current estimates show there is still 4 billion to 6 billion tons of reserve in the state’s five-county anthracite region. The industry in Pennsylvania once employed 177,000 people and helped to fuel the Industrial Revolution and support the nation through two world wars. Today, the industry employs about 1,000 people but still contributes more than $200 million to the regional and state economies.

House Bill 1813 passed by a vote of 24-1. The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

State Representative Mike Tobash
125th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact: Patricia Hippler
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