DOI has $170M for states, tribes to reclaim and repurpose abandoned coal mines

BY STAFF REPORTS
02/09/2020 12:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Shown is the fiscal year 2020 Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation funding available to states and tribes. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt on Feb. 6 announced the availability of fiscal year 2020 Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Reclamation grants through the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE).

A total of $170.9 million in grants will be provided this year for states and tribes to reclaim and repurpose abandoned coal lands.

“AML grants provide states, tribes and local partners with important resources to reclaim lands and waters impacted by abandoned mines, restoring the promise of the outdoors for hardworking Americans in coal country,” Bernhardt said.

OSMRE Director Lanny E. Erdos said his department was proud the grants “will continue to ensure our state and tribal partners have the resources needed to continue their decades of successful work on our nation’s AML sites.”

OSMRE provides AML grants to the 25 coal-producing states and three tribes based on a congressionally mandated formula that evaluates past and current coal production by these entities. Each year, after the distribution is announced, eligible states and tribes apply for annual reclamation grants to access money in their allocations. OSMRE evaluates and verifies the requests and makes the award amounts available.

The AML grants are funded in part by a fee collected on all coal produced in the United States. Under the AML Reclamation Program, OSMRE has distributed billions in grants to states and tribes. The funds have directly contributed to AML Reclamation Program achievements including the closure of over 45,000 abandoned underground mine shafts and openings, the elimination of over 960 miles of dangerous highwalls and the restoration of over 850,000 acres of clogged streams and land.

OSMRE and its state and tribal partners have worked for more than 40 years to address the physical hazards posed by lands and waters mined and abandoned or left inadequately restored before 1977 when the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) was enacted.

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