(By Mr. Speaker, Mr. Kiss, and Delegates Butcher, et al.)

Urging the Congress of the United States to provide additional funding from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund to finance future water projects in West Virginia.

Whereas, In 1977 the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act was enacted into law establishing an Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund financed by a fee assessed on every ton of coal mined for the purpose of restoring previously mined but left unreclaimed lands; and
Whereas, To date over $1.1 billion has been spent nationwide from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund to mitigate the hazards associated with abandoned coal mine lands such as dangerous highwalls, impoundments, open mine portals and contaminated water supplies; and
Whereas, West Virginia's share of unfunded high-priority abandoned coal mine reclamation costs are estimated to be $415 million; and
Whereas, West Virginia has received and spent almost $200 million from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund to finance the reclamation of abandoned coal mine land sites in the State but is of the firm conviction that additional funding is vital to the success of future water projects within this State; and
Whereas, The discrepancy between fee collections and expenditures is widening, with approximately $285 million collected in fiscal year 1997 and only $177 million appropriated; and
Whereas, The threat to the health, safety and general welfare of coalfield citizens from the hazards associated with abandoned coal mine sites is unacceptable and must be mitigated; and
Whereas, The expenditure of funds for abandoned mine reclamation projects not only enhances the coalfield environment but creates jobs in the construction of such projects; therefore, be it
Resolved by the West Virginia Legislature:
That the Committees on Appropriation of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate are urged to increase the annual appropriation from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund to a level commensurate with annual fee collections as well as begin to draw-down the unspent balance of the fund especially for future water projects in these troubled areas; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the Clerk is hereby directed to forward a copy of this resolution to the United States House of Representatives, the Secretary of the United States Senate, and to each member of the West Virginia Congressional Delegation.