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Coal cleanup costs covered by infrastructure bill

State and federal officials made an announcement Monday about federal funding meant to help eliminate some of the scars that came from energy generation in the past.

SWOYERSVILLE, Pa. — U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland paid a visit to parts of Luzerne County to sites that have not only been an eyesore in their communities but an environmental hazard. The group toured a site along Main Street in Swoyersville with a 40-foot high pile of coal waste. She and others were there to announce that the recently passed infrastructure law will fund additional cleanup efforts for energy development in the past, such as coal mining.

"Communities shouldn't have to live with this pollution, this legacy pollution for decades and decades and decades. We want a different environment for our children and grandchildren, so it's exciting," Sec. Haaland said.

Jerry Kuczynski can see the culm banks from the front window of his house along Shoemaker Street. He hopes the funding will remove the rest of the large piles that crews have already been clearing for the past few years.

"It's a step forward, let's put it that way. It's a step forward. That's all I could say about that. Hopefully, it gets to where it needs to go and get resolved," Kuczynski said.

This project in Swoyersville is already funded, and the plan is to get the seven and a half acres cleared to give it back for community space.

"To show them what it is to have mines among the neighborhoods of northeastern Pennsylvania is really important because we have to remind them (to) keep the money coming," said Rep. Matt Cartwright, (D) 8th District.

The group also visited sites in Hanover Township and Nanticoke, focusing on water pollution and how that impacts more than the communities they're located in.

The infrastructure law has designated $11.3 billion for abandoned mine land reclamation projects. A large portion of that will go to Pennsylvania.


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