Bipartisan bill introduced to clean up abandoned mine water pollution

WILKES-BARRE — US Senators Bob Casey, D-Scranton, and Mike Braun, R-Indiana, this week introduced the Safeguarding Treatment for the Restoration of Ecosystems from Abandoned Mines (STREAM) Act with US Reps. Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, and David McKinley, R-West Virginia,

Acid mine drainage (AMD) — the release of highly acidic water from abandoned mines — is one of the largest sources of water pollution throughout the country and threatens the health and safety of Americans living near abandoned mine lands.

This legislation would allow states and tribes to set aside a portion of the abandoned mine land funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Job Act to treat AMD specifically, reducing long-term water pollution and investing in the economic health of their communities.

“Thanks to the infrastructure law, historic coal-mining regions will receive billions to reclaim abandoned mine lands,” Casey said. “Still, addressing acid mine drainage remains out of reach for many states, representing a significant financial burden due to the high, ongoing costs associated with operating and maintaining AMD treatment facilities.”

Casey said without the certainty that funding will be available to cover these long-term costs, states will be unlikely to make the necessary investments to restore our vital waterways.

Casey said this legislation will provide financial certainty for states, enabling them to clean up water pollution and in doing so, improve property values, restore fishing and recreation opportunities, create long-term jobs and support local economies that rely on a clean water supply. “

“Orange-colored acid mine drainage kills fish and other wildlife in thousands of miles of streams and rivers in Pennsylvania,” Cartwright said. “The legislation Sen. Casey and I are proposing will allow us to tap into billions of dollars in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to operate and maintain drainage treatment systems. The result will be recreational and economic restoration of our waterways.”

The Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program, the primary funding source to address AML sites, authorizes states to set aside up to 30 percent of their annual AML grant to accrue interest and cover the long-term costs of acid mine drainage treatment facilities. The infrastructure law provides an additional $11.3 billion for the AML trust fund for use by states.

Sen. Toomey: Budget would

worsen nation’s fiscal health

During this week’s Senate Budget Committee Hearing with Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, corrected the Biden Administration’s mis-characterizations of a “sound fiscal course” and questioned the substantial tax hike included in President Biden’s budget proposal.

Toomey commented on President Biden’s “false claim” that his budget would keep our nation on a sound fiscal course:

“Our nation is not on a sound fiscal course and hasn’t been for quite some time,” Toomey said. “After reviewing this budget request, it’s clear to me that the president’s budget would worsen our nation’s fiscal health. The budget proposes $72.7 trillion of total spending and $58.3 trillion of total revenue over the next 10 years. That results in $14.4 trillion of total deficits. Publicly held debt balloons in this budget from over $23 trillion currently to $40 trillion by 2032 and that assumes no recession, no unforeseen emergency spending…

“How does making the 10-year budget deficit window worse by $2 trillion dollars, despite two huge tax increases, put us on a stable or sustainable path? President Biden’s boastful claim about reducing the 2021 and 2022 deficits compared to 2020 is completely disingenuous and totally context free.”

On reducing defense spending while Putin wages war in Ukraine, Toomey said:

“This Budget calls for a 14 percent year-over-year increase in non-defense—this big, massive increase in the federal bureaucracy and the welfare state well beyond even current inflation. Meanwhile, the budget calls for an inflation adjusted cut to our defense budget. The budget calls for only a 4 percent nominal increase in spending, which is an unrealistic and dangerous level considering inflation running much higher than that and a very dangerous situation around the world that we’re reminded of constantly.”

On major lapses in the budget:

“[Biden’s budget] of course proposes nothing at all to address the looming insolvency and the general unsustainable growth of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which now account for 50 percent of total spending. It also hides the various tax-and-spend proposals featured in the so- called Build Back Better Bill, which is still contemplated by the administration.”

On the tax hikes included in Biden’s proposed budget:

“So the top one percent of [Americans] make about 20 percent of all the income, pay about 40 percent of all the taxes. [Yet,] you [Director Young] and the president’s budget say ‘that’s not their fair share, their fair share must be much higher.’”

Amputee and paralyzed veterans

pension program available in Pa.

During National Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month in April, the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) wants to ensure veterans across the commonwealth are aware of the agency’s Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension Program.

Eligible Pennsylvania veterans may qualify to receive a pension of $150 per month. There are more than 2,000 veterans currently enrolled in the program.

“Military veterans all sacrifice in service to their country, but for some the sacrifice is far greater than others,” said Brig. Gen. (PA) Maureen Weigl, deputy adjutant general for Veterans Affairs. “We encourage every eligible veteran who lost a limb or has been paralyzed to apply for this benefit. It is through programs like this where we can show Pennsylvania veterans that their service to our nation is appreciated and not forgotten.”

Eligibility criteria:

• Served in the military honorably.

• Resident of Pennsylvania upon entering the military.

• Suffered a service-connected injury or incurred a disease resulting in the loss or loss of use of two or more extremities (arms/hands or legs/feet).

• At least a 40 percent disability rating compensation rating or higher in each limb as determined and certified by the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

Pennsylvania veterans should contact their County Veterans Affairs Director in the county they reside to apply. More information about the DMVA Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans Pension Program can be found at Pension Program.

Visit DMVA online at www.dmva.pa.gov or follow us at www.facebook.com/padmva or www.twitter.com/padmva.

Sen. Casey announces $11.7M for

NEPA water infrastructure projects

US Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, this week announced $11.7 million in federal funding for the US Army Corps of Engineers for the water infrastructure projects in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The funding comes from the FY23 allocation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Army Corps projects receiving funding include: Aylesworth Creek Lake (Lackawanna County), Francis E. Walter Dam (Luzerne County), Stillwater Lake (Monroe County), Cowanesque Lake (Tioga County), Tioga-Hammond Lakes (Tioga County) and Prompton Lake (Wayne County).

“Like many Northeastern Pennsylvanians, I have enjoyed our lakes and outdoor recreation all my life and I know how important it is to maintain our water infrastructure,” said Senator Casey. “Thanks to the infrastructure law, we can keep our lakes clean and beautiful and our dams functional. This new funding will ensure that residents and visitors alike can enjoy our natural resources for many years to come.”

Lackawanna County

For Aylesworth Creek Lake, the Army Corps will receive to $180,000 to pave the dam crest road and parking area.

Luzerne County

The Army Corps will receive $2,100,000 for the Francis E. Walter Dam, bringing the total of IIJA funding for the project to $2,200,000. The work completed with this funding includes rehabbing the center emergency flood control gate and installing piezometers in the drainage zone and at station 84. Since its construction, the FE Walter Dam has prevented more than $295 million in flood damages.

Monroe County

For Stillwater Lake, the Army Corps will receive $5,000,000 to rehabilitate the outlet tunnel, replace the regulating outlet works gate, repair stop-log guides and re-construct the dam office building.

Tioga County

The Army Corps will receive $2,650,000 for the Cowanesque Lake Dam, bringing the total IIJA funding for the project to $2,999,000. The funding will be used to repair deteriorated critical concrete structures in spillways and slab at the dam. The Cowanesque Lake Dam is used for flood risk management, water supply and recreation.

For Tioga-Hammond Lakes, the Army Corps will receive $88,000, bringing the total of IIJA funding for the project to $98,000. The funding will be used to make upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant tank.

Wayne County

The Army Corps will receive $1,675,000 to repave the boat launch access road and replace culvert headwall structures at Prompton Lake.

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

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