Replenish Ohio’s reclamation fund

Environmentalists and the coal industry often find themselves glaring angrily at one another over the issues fence that so frequently divides them. They agree on an important issue in Ohio, however, according to The Associated Press.

Both groups are worried about funding of a state program to reclaim abandoned mine lands.

Eastern Ohio residents are well aware of the need for such work. A drive west through our region discloses several areas that were scars on the landscape, because of mining, until they were reclaimed.

Coal companies pay to make that happen. The state collects a severance tax of 14 cents per ton of coal mined for the purpose.

In addition, companies pay $2,500 for each acre they plan to mine.

But during 2017, state officials took $5 million from the reclamation fund in order to keep the budget in balance. Another $109 million came from other sources.

There are no plans to repay the money.

That is, in a word, irresponsible — $5 million dollars would reclaim a lot of mined land. Not having the money could mean some devastated ground is not reclaimed, coal lobbyists and environmentalists agree.

State legislators should correct the problem in their budget for the coming year. They should include $5 million to repay the reclamation fund — and should keep an eye on it to ensure it is supported adequately in the future. Failing to do so would be a disservice to all Ohioans, not just those in our area.