Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's announcement came Friday on the heels of U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu announcing that more than $144 million is available to states for abandoned mine land reclamation efforts in fiscal year 2022.
This is in addition to the $725 million fiscal year 2022 investment announced in February from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to accelerate cleaning up abandoned mine lands across the country.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law extended the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s Abandoned Mine Lands, or AML, fee collection authority through September 30, 2034, and reduced reclamation fee rates by 20 percent, ensuring a funding source for AML grants through 2035. These grants are aimed at helping local communities revitalize local economies by supporting good-paying union jobs and addressing dangerous environmental conditions and pollution from legacy coal developments.
During an appearance in Cleveland, Ohio, Haaland said, “Coalfield communities helped power decades of economic growth for our country, but that those communities now bear the brunt of hazardous pollution, toxic water levels, and land subsidence long after coal companies have moved on. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes critical investments to help clean up legacy pollution as part of our all-of-government approach to revitalize these communities as they address the lingering impacts of extractive industries.”
Twenty-four coal-producing states are affected by Friday’s announcement with the reclamation money available in Kentucky standing at $8,889,292 under the new grants.
AML reclamation projects close dangerous mine shafts, reclaim unstable slopes, improve water quality by treating acid mine drainage, and restore water supplies damaged by mining. They also enable economic revitalization by reclaiming hazardous land for recreational facilities and other economic redevelopment uses like advanced manufacturing and renewable energy deployment.
To date, AML funding has directly resulted in the closure of over 45,000 abandoned underground mine shafts and openings, the elimination of over 1,040 miles of dangerous highwalls, the reclamation of more than 130,000 acres of spoil and dangerous piles and embankments, and the restoration of over 52,000 acres of clogged streams and land.