Secretary Haaland and Infrastructure Coordinator Landrieu Visit Ohio to Showcase President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funds to Reclaim Abandoned Mine Lands
CLEVELAND, Ohio — During a visit to Ohio today, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu announced more than $144 million is available to states and Tribes for abandoned mine land (AML) reclamation efforts in fiscal year 2022. This is in addition to the $725 million fiscal year 2022 investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to accelerate cleaning up abandoned mine lands across the country announced in February.
The visit is part of the Secretary’s multi-state, multi-month tour of Appalachia to highlight how these critical infrastructure investments will help ensure our communities have healthy lands and waters in their neighborhoods.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law extended the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s (OSMRE) 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 help local communities revitalize local economies by supporting good-paying union jobs and addressing dangerous environmental conditions and pollution from legacy coal developments.
“Hardworking coalfield communities helped power decades of economic growth for our country. But those same families bear the brunt of hazardous pollution, toxic water levels, and land subsidence long after coal companies have moved on,” said Secretary Haaland. “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. I am grateful to the federal, state, local and labor leaders who joined us today to discuss how federal resources and partnerships will make a difference and create jobs in communities across the state.”
“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will create good-paying jobs and economic opportunity – especially for workers in energy communities,” said White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Landrieu. “By reclaiming abandoned mine lands, we will improve local water quality, reduce flooding, address environmental justice and create new potential for clean energy projects, all while providing good-paying jobs for the very people who worked in these mines.”
AML funding enables states to undertake abandoned mine land remediation projects, which may reduce methane emissions – a key contributor to climate change. This funding comes as part of the Biden-Harris administration’s unprecedented investments in coal, oil and gas, and power plant communities, including through the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization. This effort also advances the President’s Justice40 Initiative, which commits to delivering 40 percent of the benefits of certain climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities.
Secretary Haaland and Landrieu made the announcement today after touring several abandoned mine land sites that are in various stages of the reclamation process. The group saw an AML site in Mineral City that still has features impacting local communities, including dangerous highwalls, pit impoundments and uncontrolled mine drainage. They also toured sites like the Huff Run – Farr project and the Dessecker Mine Project, which have been reclaimed for safer community use using AML reclamation funds. The group also met with retired members of the United Mine Workers of America and participated in a roundtable with area labor leaders hosted by Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga.
AML reclamation projects support vitally needed jobs for coal communities by investing in projects that close dangerous mine shafts, reclaim unstable slopes, improve water quality by treating acid mine drainage, and restore water supplies damaged by mining. AML reclamation projects also enable economic revitalization by reclaiming hazardous land for recreational facilities and other economic redevelopment uses like advanced manufacturing and renewable energy deployment.
In fiscal year 2022, OSMRE is providing AML grants to 24 coal-producing states and two Tribal AML Reclamation Programs according to a congressionally mandated formula. The grant formula is based on past and current coal production, and the program is funded in part by a fee collected on all coal produced in the United States. Under this program, OSMRE has provided more than $8 billion to reclaim lands and waters that were mined or affected by mining prior to 1977, when the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) was enacted by Congress.
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.
Following the announcement of the annual AML grant distribution, eligible states and Tribes apply for grants to access money in their allocations. The fiscal year 2022 AML Reclamation funding available is as follows: