The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) today announced that more than $298 million is available in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 to states and tribes to reclaim abandoned coal mines.
Funded in part by a fee collected on all coal produced in the United States, the 2014 Abandoned Mine Land (AML) grants enable 28 eligible states and tribes to help eliminate dangerous conditions and pollution caused by past coal mining. Since Congress enacted the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA), OSMRE has provided more than $7.8 billion to reclaim more than 370,000 acres of high-priority hazardous abandoned mine sites.
Due to a reduction of the AML fee that coal mine operators pay (required in 2006 amendments to SMCRA), the FY 2014 sequestration of mandatory Federal budgetary resources, and a decline in coal production, the 2014 AML grants reflect a $23.8 million decrease from the $322 million distributed last year. AML-funded projects include closing dangerous mine shafts, reclaiming unstable slopes, improving water quality by treating acid mine drainage, and restoring water supplies damaged by mining. The AML funds that OSMRE provides also support vitally needed well-paying jobs for communities in coal country.
OSMRE provides AML grants to 28 coal-producing states and tribes according to a congressionally mandated formula based on their past and current coal production. Between now and the end of September — the end of the current fiscal year — states and tribes will apply for their annual reclamation grants, after which time OSMRE will make the respective award amounts available.
News release by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.