U.S. Department of the Interior Announces More Than $170 Million in Conservation Funding for States and Tribes to Reclaim and Repurpose Abandoned Coal Mines, Including $2.8 Million for Oklahoma
AML funds protect lives, repair scarred land and improve the environment
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt today announced the availability of Fiscal Year (FY) 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. Oklahoma will receive $2.8 million.
Robert Toole, Oklahoma Conservation Commission Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program Director, said, “In addition to eliminating health and safety hazards, the State receives multiple economic benefits from the annual AML grant in the form of disposable income and the purchase of goods and services. Grant funding expended translates into jobs in areas such as construction, labor, equipment and other services. For every AML dollar spent for construction, $1.59 is returned to the local economy.”
Trey Lam, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, said “Despite remarkable achievements, more than $120 million in un-reclaimed coal-related abandoned sites remain in Oklahoma’s inventory.”
“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,” said Secretary Bernhardt.
“OSMRE is proud to announce today the 2020 AML grants availability,” said Principal Deputy Director exercising the authority of the OSMRE Director Lanny E. Erdos. “These 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 42 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.
The mission of the Oklahoma’s Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program is to protect lives, repair scarred land and improve the environment. The purpose of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission’s AML Program is to protect the public from hazards left as a result of past coal mining practices. The primary objective is to reclaim surface and underground coal mine sites abandoned prior to Aug. 3, 1977, that pose the highest threat to the public’s health, safety, and general welfare. The program is 100 percent federally funded from fees on active coal mine production. The AML Program coordinates with 16 eastern Oklahoma conservation districts in identifying hazardous AML sites, with particular emphasis placed on the public’s involvement. For more information on the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and its services, please go to conservation.ok.gov/ or follow the Oklahoma Conservation Commission on Facebook @ConservationOK .
The FY 2020 AML Reclamation funding available to states and tribes is as follows: