Our economy here in the Anthracite Region was ruled by “King Coal,” but that is not so true anymore. There is still coal mined, but we like to think of the remaining coal companies as “reclamation companies.” Since the passage of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act in 1977, that is what they have become and the environment is really benefitting while they are making profits from coal sales.
As of February 2016, Pennsylvania is still 4th in the nation for coal production at 61,877 thousand short tons that year (SOURCE: Energy Information Administration) behind Wyoming, West Virginia and Kentucky. But… PA is #1 in the amount of abandoned mine cleanup that remains followed by many other Appalachian States.
There really isn’t much virgin coal that is left under the ground here in the Anthracite Region, unless you dig real deep (over 1,000 feet into the earth and pump out a billions of gallons of water), then there’s a lot left. Most of these coal companies are going back to old mines and taking second to third cuttings and daylighting underground coal mines. In the process, they are actually doing a great job of cleaning up above ground coal mines and sealing off areas that produce mine drainage, reducing the flows that come out of a specific discharge. We applaud the remaining anthracite coal industry and consider them our partners.
There are many business opportunities that spring up from attempting to solve AML issues if you think of these problems as opportunities! We care about the local economy and typically hire firms from Pennsylvania to help with out cleanup efforts, because who knows best about how to cleanup a coal mine than the ancestors of miners? That is not to say that we don’t give outside businesses or industries a “fair shake,” because we do. EPCAMR is an inclusive coalition.