U.S. Department of Interior Announces More Than $300 Million in AML Funding

The Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) has announced the availability of the Fiscal Year 2018 Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Reclamation grants, which will provide $300.7 million to states and tribes to reclaim abandoned coal mines. The money will be used to fix highwalls, stabilize land above underground mines, and repair impaired waters, among other things.

The $300 million grant, which is nearly $120 million more than FY 201, is the result of a phase-in period for states and tribes to receive certified in lieu funds that were withheld under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) between FY 2009 and FY 2011.
Those states and tribes that have certified that they have completed their abandoned mine land reclamation obligations will receive $61 million dollars in FY 2018 and FY 2019, in addition to the certified in lieu funds those states and tribes otherwise receive each year from the U.S. Treasury.

Uncertified states will also receive an increase of the same amount in those years. A small portion of the increase in AML funding is attributed to an upturn in U.S. coal production. The total amount available for distribution was reduced by the mandated sequestration amount of 6.6 percent that was applied across the board.

OSMRE provides AML grants to the 28 coal-producing states and tribes according to a congressionally mandated formula based on their past and current coal production. Each year, after the distribution is announced, eligible states and tribes apply for annual reclamation grants to access money in their allocations. After OSMRE has evaluated and verified the requests, the bureau will make the award amounts available.

Under the AML program, OSMRE has distributed more than $5 billion in grants to states and tribes from the Abandoned Mine Land Fund. Over the past 40 years, the AML program has directly contributed to closing more than 43,000 abandoned underground mine shafts and openings; eliminating nearly 1,000 miles of highwalls; and restoring over 35,000 acres of streams and land.

The bulk of the grants, $221,337,197, are going to five states. Wyoming ($91,340,088), Pennsylvania ($55,657,898), West Virginia ($36,274,249), Kentucky ($19,042,090) and Illinois (19,022,872).

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