Rep. Bacon: Protecting Hoosier homes from mine subsidence

Posted by: Hannah Carlock  | Monday, February 29, 2016 8:30 am

Protecting Hoosier homes from mine subsidence

Underground mines have been in use in Indiana since the early 1800s. Communities revolved around these mines, which provided economic opportunities. As technology progressed, and mines were no longer depended upon as heavily as they once were, the mines were left to erode and weaken over time. Because these mines were never surveyed, it is impossible to determine their exact locations, and mine collapses are possible.

I have witnessed multiple mine cave-ins due to a faulty structure and abandonment. A few times, I have simply noticed a small hole in the road, and when I came back a huge chunk of the road was gone. In Indiana, 26 counties are still affected by insecurely structured mines and mine subsidence. I am working on a law that would provide financial assistance and support to Hoosiers throughout Indiana who live in areas with underground coal mines.

This proposal is linked to an earlier law passed by the General Assembly in the 1980s allowing owners of dwellings or structures the ability to obtain coal mine subsidence insurance coverage. However, under this current law, only those dwellings or structures atop pre-Aug. 3, 1977 mined areas can obtain proper coverage. This bill would expand the coverage to owners of homes built after Aug. 3, 1977. It also would provide protections for municipal buildings like courthouses and fire stations by allowing them to obtain coverage in case of damage due to a collapsing and abandoned coal mine.

If a person’s house is damaged by a collapse of an underground mine, this bill would provide the opportunity to obtain coverage for living expenses while they are displaced from their home and damages are repaired. Lastly, it protects the Department of Natural Resources’ Mine Subsidence Insurance Fund dedicated to mine subsidence damage from inactive underground coal mines abandoned before Aug. 3, 1977.

After being approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate, Senate Bill 336 can now be signed into law by the governor. Please contact me with questions or input at (317) 232-9833 or email, h75@iga.in.gov.

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                 Rep. Bacon (R-Chandler) represents portions of Warrick, Pike and Spencer counties.