The Senate Finance Committee approved two bills sponsored by Sen. David G. Argall (R-29) on May 8 to improve a tax credit program for older buildings and support the state’s threatened coal refuse jobs.

Senate Bill 541 extends the tax credit to rehabilitate old structures and remediate dilapidated buildings.

“These tax credits have been very effective in encouraging revitalization, at both the state and federal level,” Argall said. “In many of these cases, these older buildings were once the pride of the community and now unfortunately, they’re symbols of blight and urban decay. I am hopeful that this legislation will allow Pennsylvania to transform more blighted buildings and encourage revitalization efforts in our downtown and our neighborhoods in our communities, large and small.”

“This tax credit has had a great record of success in communities across the commonwealth,” said Sen. Judy Schwank (D-11), a prime sponsor of the Senate bill. “I know it has been impactful in third-class cities, like Reading, which I represent. This program is uniquely tailored to the commonwealth as we are fortunate enough to have many historic facilities.”

Senate Bill 618 extends the Coal Refuse Energy and Reclamation Tax an additional 10 years and increases the maximum amount of tax credits. Coal Refuse facilities throughout Pennsylvania have removed gigantic piles of waste coal across the state since the 1980s and 90s. Many of the massive pits from past strip mining operations have been filled as a result of this work.

“This legislation is important because it protects jobs and continues the environmental progress which we have seen in the past few decades which is only possible through a public-private partnership,” Argall said. “Our children have grown up surrounded by many more green fields and mountains than I did. Our goal is that someday, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will experience even more green, and many fewer gray and black landscapes as a direct result of this legislation.”

There are currently 13 plants operating in Pennsylvania. Four of these plants are only operating on a seasonal basis, and two plants have already closed.

“The Coal Refuse Energy and Reclamation Tax Credit needs to be expanded if Pennsylvania’s coal refuse industry is going to continue to produce good energy jobs while providing essential environmental reclamation services to the communities impacted by the legacy of coal mining,” said Sen. John Yudichak (D-14), a prime sponsor of the bill. “We cannot reclaim the more than 10,000 acres of mine scarred acres in Pennsylvania if we do not have a private partner in the coal refuse industry, and the coal refuse industry is not going to exist if we do not help them compete in the energy market.”

Both bills will now move to the full Senate for passage.

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