U.S. Department of the Interior to Spend $260 Million for Abandoned Mine Reclamation and Economic Revitalization

TThe Department of the Interior Office of Surface Mining (OSM) has announced the availability of more than $267 million for states and Tribes to support reclamation and economic development efforts in fiscal year 2021.

According to OSM, more than $152.22 million is now available to the states through the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act’s (SMCRA) Abandoned Mine Land (AML) grant program. This funding is used to complete environmental remediation on abandoned mine lands around the nation. The total amount available for 2021 was reduced by a congressionally mandated sequestration amount of 5.7% for the AML grant distribution.

Twenty-seven states and tribes are expected to receive funding from the program. Wyoming, Pennsylvania and West Virginia will once again receive the largest portion of funding because of their large inventory of abandoned mine lands. Wyoming is slated to receive nearly $33 million. Pennsylvania will receive $27.4 million, while West Virginia will take in nearly $19 million.
Additionally, the Department is also disbursing $115 million through the Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) grant program. The funds will be distributed to six states and three tribes with the greatest amount of unfunded abandoned mine land problems for projects that leverage mine land reclamation with local economic development.

Pennsylvania is expected to receive $25 million from the AMLER program. Other states receiving funding includes: Alabama ($10 million), Kentucky ($10 million), Ohio ($25 million), Virginia ($10 million), and West Virginia ($25 million), and $3.33 million each to the Crow Tribe, the Hopi Tribe, and the Navajo Nation.

According to OSM, the fees paid by mining operators into the AML reclamation program have provided more than $8 billion to reclaim lands and waters that were mined or affected by mining prior to 1977, when SMCRA was enacted by Congress.

Further, AML funding has directly resulted in the closure of over 45,000 abandoned underground mine shafts and openings, the elimination of over 990 miles of dangerous highwalls, and the restoration of over 52,000 acres of clogged streams and land. However, OSM estimates that over $10 billion worth of work is still needed to reclaim eligible coal AML sites.

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