RECLAIM is a chance to begin revitalization, a better way forward for those folks who want to remain in Eastern Kentucky and those who want to return. It’s a path for a diversified economy, where profits stay in the region and a sustainable source of energy protects our environment, workers and heritage.
RECLAIM is important because central Appalachia’s people deserve much better than they are getting from our legislators. It is important because abandoned mine sites are hazards to health and property, because people and local governments are struggling to survive and because the infusion of $102 million would help both.
RECLAIM is important, as originally written, because it prioritizes economic development on all sites. This language would, in the short term, create jobs reclaiming mine sites and using skills that out-of-work miners already have. Long-term job creation would come from the businesses that take advantage of reclaimed sites.
I invest my spare time working for such change because I love the hills and their people. I do it for my family, who still resides in Eastern Kentucky and who taught me to value and appreciate our heritage. I do it so that when my nephew graduates from college, he can return home to a better place than he left.