CADIZ, OHIO While touring coal mines, official promotes cleanup
The U.S. Cabinet member said Ohio needs millions of dollars in mine work.
CADIZ, Ohio (AP) -- Nearly 170,000 Ohioans live within one mile of abandoned coal mines that pose health and safety hazards, said U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton.
Norton toured several mines in eastern Ohio on Saturday, including one near this community 91 miles southeast of Cleveland, to promote a Bush administration plan to clean up mines in Appalachian states.
"The administration's legislation will let us get serious about saving lives, improving health and safety and restoring ruined landscapes right here in the Ohio Valley," she said.
Ohio's share of annual cleanup funds would increase to $9.7 million from $5.6 million under the plan, which would use money mostly drawn from mining operations in the West.
Norton said there's about $110 million of mine cleanup work to be done in Ohio.
The bill would reauthorize a program that assesses a fee on coal production, much of which comes from the West. But the bill would change the formula for distributing the money to favor Appalachian states, where heavy production preceded a 1977 law requiring mining companies to clean up after themselves.
The bill would increase the program's annual spending on abandoned mines by $53 million -- from about $142 million to $195 million -- using fees already paid by the coal industry but not authorized for spending by Congress.
The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives and in the Senate earlier this month.