Pennsylvania State Reps. Doyle Heffley (R-122) and Jaret Gibbons (D-10) recently drafted legislation with bipartisan support that would provide a tax credit to companies that create energy using coal waste.
The tax credit would go to companies that use waste coal stockpiles, known as "culm banks," to generate energy, thereby creating jobs at waste coal power plants throughout the state.
According to Earth Conservancy, a non-profit group dedicated to mine land reclamation, conservation and economic development in Pennsylvania's Luzerne County, the state has more than 250,000 acres of abandoned mine lands, culm banks and mine shafts across 45 of its 67 counties - more than any other state in the country.
"Creating alternative energy from coal refuse is helping to address the environmental damage caused by bad coal management practices," Gibbons said. "The process creates clean energy and thousands of jobs, while also contributing to the cleanup and reclamation of abandoned mine land and waterways. This bill would help those companies in the face of a volatile and depressed energy market."
The legislation - H.B. 2265, which is currently awaiting review by the House Finance Committee - has received support from more than 20 co-sponsors. Identical legislation was drafted in the Senate by Don White (R-41).
"This past winter was extremely difficult for power producers across the state due to the closing of several coal power plants and most importantly for families facing rising energy costs," Heffley said. "Efforts to clean up waste coal sites assist our power grid while also boosting our environment and eliminating eyesores which have been around for decades. These dollars will go directly toward the preservation and creation of quality jobs in our region."
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