Share interior provides more than $291 million in conservation funding for states and tribes to clean up and repurpose abandoned coal mines

Press Release | March 21, 2019 | U.S. Dept of the Interior

AML funds improve coal communities and the lives of their residents

U.S. Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt today announced the availability of the Fiscal Year 2019 Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Reclamation grants through the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement(OSMRE). This year’s grants will provide more than $291.2 million [1] for states and tribes to reclaim and repurpose abandoned coal lands.

“These grants are a great example of Interior partnering with states, Tribes, and local governments to provide resources for conservation efforts and infrastructure and public safety improvements, like fixing embankments, stabilizing land above underground mines, and restoring streams,” said Acting Secretary Bernhardt. “The investment we’re making back into coal country helps protect people, land, water and property, and enhances the lives of local citizens.”

AML grants, funded in part by a fee based on coal produced in the United States, help to eliminate dangerous conditions and pollution caused by past coal mining. AML-funded projects have closed dangerous mine shafts, eliminated highwalls, reclaimed unstable slopes, treated acid mine drainage, and restored water supplies damaged by mining.

OSMRE provides AML grants to the 25 coal-producing states and three 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. OSMRE evaluates and verifies the requests, and makes the award amounts available.

The authority to collect AML reclamation fees is slated to expire in September 2021, unless Congress reauthorizes the fee, as it did in 2006.

[1] Approximately $120 million of the total AML Reclamation grants is the result of the final payment from the phase-in period for states and tribes to receive certified in lieu funds that were withheld under 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 received $61 million dollars, in addition to the certified in lieu funds those states and tribes otherwise receive each year from the U.S. Treasury. Uncertified states also received a similar increase of $61 million as well as their annual payments from the AML Fund. The total amount available for the FY 2019 AML Grant distribution was reduced by the mandated sequestration amount of 6.2 percent that was applied across the board resulting in a reduction of $19.2 million.