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Responsible Mining

Extension Of Mine Fund Tax Added To Budget Bill

Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., took the first step Tuesday to stave off the end of the federal program that cleans up abandoned coal mines.

Byrd won Senate Appropriations Committee approval to extend a tax that funds the cleanup program for another nine months.

... Without congressional action, the coal tax that funds mine cleanups would expire Sept. 30.

If that happens, thousands of abandoned mine sites — mostly in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky — would go unreclaimed.

-- via Daily Scoop

I have to give Byrd some credit. I've had a pretty harsh view (warning: really old and poorly-written column) of him because of his willingness to back environmentally destructive mining practices. But if you're going to mine, this is the responsible way to do it -- force the company to pay in advance so that there's money there to fix the problems left behind. Now, this coal tax is more of a Social Security-style pay-as-you-go than a true cleanup savings account, but it amounts to the same thing. Contrast Byrd's responsible approach with the Bush administration, which supports opening land to mining but has cut back on the cleanup tax and diverted what money it did collect into other accounts.


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