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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Advocates propose solutions to stop zombie mines in Ohio, other states

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Friday, February 16, 2024   

Advocates from coal-mining communities are proposing a roadmap to help address and prevent so-called "zombie mines," - abandoned mine lands on hold indefinitely.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, Ohio and other Appalachian states are littered with hundreds of zombie mines, allowing companies to avoid paying for environmental cleanup.

Erin Savage, senior program manager for Appalachian Voices, explained permit transfers allow companies to shed their responsibilities and the region has seen many go bankrupt in the last decade. Savage said advocates want federal rules limiting the amount of time mine permits can remain in "idle" status.

"This could provide an opportunity to make sure that these other coal companies taking on permits out of bankruptcy are actually capable of doing the reclamation before that transfer is approved," Savage noted.

That's one recommendation in a new platform supported by 52 organizations that would tackle the "zombie" mine crisis, which is currently being investigated by the Government Accountability Office.

According to a report from the Appalachian Citizens Law Center, pollution and debris from inactive mines can seep into drinking water supplies and harm wildlife, as well as putting communities at increased risk for landslides.

Savage added the problem is expected to grow as dependence on coal declines. And she argued stricter policies are needed to hold mining companies accountable for proper reclamation methods called for under federal water protection legislation.

"Ensuring compliance with the Clean Water Act through reclamation; require disturbed areas to be planted with noninvasive species," Savage outlined. "We see a big invasive species problem, both in the east and the west."

Research shows reclaiming zombie mines could also bring economic opportunities to a region plagued by unemployment. A 2021 analysis by Appalachian Voices found reclamation of modern mines in Ohio and six other eastern states could create between 23,000 and 45,000 jobs.

Disclosure: Appalachian Voices contributes to our fund for reporting on Energy Policy, Environment, and Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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