DeWine’s idea for coal mine reclamation makes sense

For many years, coal mining was a major employer, not to mention a key part of the tax base, in many eastern Ohio counties. Now, in large measure because of federal government action, the industry is struggling.

Meanwhile, abandoned mine land throughout the region needs to be reclaimed. Gov. Mike DeWine is right in thinking the task requires a minor infusion of state funding. DeWine has included $5 million in general state revenue in his state budget proposal, for the purpose of ensuring a mine reclamation fund can do its job.

As is the practice in several states, a special fund for mine reclamation has existed for many years. It is funded through fees paid by mine operators, including a 14-cent per ton tax on coal they produce.

But the fund has dwindled to about $21 million. That decline in part can be traced to action by the former administration in taking money out of it to help bolster the state’s general budget, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

In other words, don’t blame operators for the need to replenish the reclamation fund. And don’t sock it to them to build the account back up, either.

Many coal companies are struggling. The last thing they — or their employees — need is higher fees and taxes.

DeWine’s approach makes more sense.

Hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of mine sites abandoned decades ago by companies that may not exist today need to be reclaimed. Some of them are right here in our area. And the results of reclamation — thousands of acres of once-devastated land that have been restored — also are apparent here.

State legislators should go along with DeWine’s proposal, then. While there already has been controversy over some of his budget plans, there should be none regarding this one.