More than $300 million in AML Reclamation funding will be available to states and tribes in FY 2018.
“Restoring the usability of abandoned mine lands is an example of the Department of the Interior’s multiple-use mission of conservation in action. Interior will continue helping states and tribes responsibly develop America’s energy resources and address legacy problems related to 200 years of mining,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said. “AML grants keep Americans working and making a difference in their communities. This money will be used to fix highwalls, stabilize land above underground mines and repair impaired waters, among other things. AML reclamation makes life better in our Nation’s coal communities.”
Approximately $120 million of the increase from FY 2017 is the result of a phase-in period for states and tribes to receive certified in lieu funds that were withheld under the 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 will receive $61 million dollars in FY 2018 and FY 2019, in addition to the certified in lieu funds those states and tribes otherwise receive each year from the U.S. Treasury.
Uncertified states will also receive an increase of the same amount in those years. A small portion of the increase in AML funding is attributed to an upturn in U.S. coal production. The total amount available for distribution was reduced by the mandated sequestration amount of 6.6 percent that was applied across the board.
OSMRE provides AML grants to the 28 coal-producing states and 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. After OSMRE has evaluated and verified the requests, the bureau will make the award amounts available.
Under the AML program, OSMRE has distributed more than $5 billion in grants to states and tribes from the Abandoned Mine Land Fund. Over the past 40 years, the AML program has directly contributed to closing more than 43,000 abandoned underground mine shafts and openings; eliminating nearly 1,000 miles of highwalls; and restoring over 35,000 acres of streams and land.