The Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation will be taking the lead on the coordination of the 11th Annual PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation & Coal Mining Heritage conference for 2009, with its western PA counterpart, WPCAMR, and other state-wide reclamation partners who make up the Conference Planning Committee. The AMR Conference is set for July 13-16th, 2009, hosted by the University of Pittsburgh, at Johnstown’s Living / Learning Center at the heart of the campus. This year’s conference theme will be focused around renewing the collective energy of our state-wide patch town heritage and culture to become the new green communities of the future. Alternative renewable energy sources that can potentially be derived from abandoned mine sites and underground mine water pools. These are two of the focus areas that are being considered at this year’s conference. The Alternative Energy Investment Act and the Alternative Fuels Incentive Act, both signed by Governor Rendell in July 2008, will provide $665.9 million of state investment in alternative energy sources, is expected to attract up to $3.5 billion in private investment in alternative energy in Pennsylvania, and 10,000 jobs.
With the national economy falling into a recession, consumers need to begin to think about leaning towards greater fuel efficiencies and more conservative energy consumption. Corporate responsibilities lie on the ability to find alternative clean energy sources that can diversify their portfolios and the need for consumptive use of our Commonwealth’s rivers and streams for purposes in the industrial gas & oil fields development. There is a growing national support for economic redevelopment that will create green jobs related to infrastructure development. PA’s abandoned mine lands and mining impacted waterways are now poised to become some our greatest assets in our environment.
Our community watersheds have the opportunity to partner with companies that are interested in our Commonwealth’s resources on our abandoned mine lands. These problem areas could one day create sustainable communities that could decrease our carbon footprint utilizing solar, wind, hydro-electric, geothermal, and the Marcellus Shale oil & gas energy, as opposed to increasing our overall footprint based solely on fossil fuel alone. Attendees will hopefully be able to come away from this year’s conference with information not only on alternative energy sources, but on ways in which they can begin to reduce costs to their overall operation & maintenance of AMD treatment systems, reclaim additional acres of abandoned mine lands through public-private partnerships through the various power industries that will be invited, and to establish relationships with corporations from within and outside of PA. It will be incumbent upon the watershed stewards to stress and inform these corporation of the importance of maintaining our coal heritage while still shaping our communities future in our modern day society.
We are looking for industry leaders to come exhibit and speak to PA’s community leaders and state-wide organizations that are interested in creating a marriage between these new “green jobs” that will stimulate the local economies of these watersheds, while at the same time protecting and reclaiming the sins of past mining practices on these former industrial brownfields of the mining industry. While our community leaders are stewards of our local watersheds impacted by mining, we need to work with our economic and private sector leaders to become engaged in corporate citizenship on a local level, particularly with new industry leaders who are coming into PA. We are encouraging those industry leaders to become a vendor or a sponsor and have an opportunity to speak at the conference about your corporation interests and future innovative technologies in the field of abandoned mine reclamation.
Planning for topics is ongoing. There will be a half-day tour on the 13th in and around the Greater Johnstown Area to AMD Sites, reclamation projects, and other significant places of interest to remind us of our coal heritage and culture. The Johnstown Area Heritage Association is going to play a key role in this year’s conference. There will be two and a half days of abandoned mine reclamation and AMD topics as well as 2 days of coal heritage and history topics. We are also looking for speakers related to PA coal history to provide the historical context to base future decisions upon. The last day, on the 16th will be a half day, with an optional tour planned for the Winber Coal Heritage Center in Winber.
The AMR conference will also focus on receiving an update from the PA Department of Environmental Protection on the status of the Title IV Surface Mining Control & Reclamation implementation plans, Set-Aside funding for AMD remediation projects, and the AMD Treatability Criteria Selection for AMD remediation projects. Can black culm banks and orange streams in our mining impacted watersheds becoming the “new green communities” of the future? Join us and find out for yourself, if you would like to become a part of the solution to our mine water pollution.
Windmills in Delano, Schuylkill County, PA overlooking the Coal Patch town of Centralia