The Reclaim Act is a bipartisan bill now before the House of Representatives in Washington that would use existing Abandoned Mine Lands funds to create new jobs cleaning up old (pre-1977) mined areas.

When passed into law, the Reclaim Act would provide $1 billion over five years to reclaim these lands.

As a major coal mining state, Illinois would receive a significant share of these funds. Projects created with input from affected communities in our state would generate well-paying jobs and restore lands badly damaged by coal mining.

In August, I and other members of the Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance (CIHCA) met with Rep. Darin LaHood and asked him to co-sponsor the Reclaim Act. Rep. LaHood promised to seriously consider it.

In late September, I joined Joyce Blumenshine of CIHCA and the Sierra Club and visited Washington to ask other members of Illinois’ congressional delegation to support the Reclaim Act. Supporters from other coal mining states were also in the capital to lobby for the Reclaim Act’s passage.

We were very pleased when during a meeting in her office, Rep. Cheri Bustos agreed to be a co-sponsor of the Reclaim Act. It is our hope that this bipartisan bill will become law in the very near future, so that jobs can be quickly created in coal communities where they are urgently needed.

Larry Jones