Legislation Introduced to Extend Coal Refuse and Reclamation Tax Credit

Two legislators from the anthracite coal region have introduced separate bills to renew the “Coal Refuse and Reclamation Tax Credit Program” in 2026. Senator David Argall of Tamaqua and Rep. Kurt Masser of Elysburg have both introduced legislation that will extend the tax credit program and increase the amount of the tax credit available.

The Coal Refuse Energy and Reclamation Tax Credit was created in 2016 by making $7.5 million available to qualified entities. In 2017, the amount was increased to $10 million. However the program is set to expire in 2026.

The program provides tax credits to eligible facilities that generate electricity by beneficially using the coal refuse for power generation and re mediating environmental issues by reclaiming mining-affected sites. Originally, the performance-based tax credit was intended to provide a $4 credit per ton of coal refuse reclaimed by these facilities, but due to the current program cap the amount received by the facilities is only about $1 per ton.

According to Rep. Kurt Masser, prime sponsor of HB 1481, “while the program has worked mechanically, the amount the tax credit has been insufficient to incentivize the remediation of additional coal refuse and prevent the closure of a number of coal refuse facilities”

There are currently 13 plants operating in Pennsylvania. Four of these facilities are currently operating on a seasonal basis, leading to reduced jobs and less reclamation work performed. Two plants have already closed. “If we don’t provide more incentives for these facilities to remain open, not only will jobs be lost but the massive waste coal piles and pits will remain for generations to come.” Said Senator Argall who introduced SB 618 to address the issue.

Both the Senate and House bills will amend the Tax Reform Code of 1971 to grant a 10 year extension of the credit to run from 2026 to 2036. The amount of the credit will be increased to $45 million annually.
According to Christy Sweeney, Director, Finance & Public Affairs for the Appalachian Region Independent Power Producers Association (ARIPPA), “This legislation is vital to the continued operation of the remaining ARIPPA power plants and provides for the continued environmental reclamation and remediation of coal refuse piles in Pennsylvania.”

Statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (BAMR), show that approximately 766 coal refuse banks covering 8,244 acres remain un-reclaimed. The estimated amount of coal refuse in these banks is nearly 217 million tons of material potentially suitable for being reclaimed by coal refused to energy facilities. Other studies have projected the amount of coal refuse placed on lands in the anthracite and bituminous coal fields of Pennsylvania approaches 1 or 2 billion tons.

To date, the industry has removed more than 230 million tons of coal refuse, resorted over 1,200 miles of impaired streams and reclaimed more than 7,000 acres of abandoned mine lands.

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