Abandoned Mine Land Fund Reauthorization
Congress can create jobs, clean up abandoned coal mines, and invest in the future of coal communities by supporting this important fund before it expires in 2021.
Millions of Americans live less than a mile from an unreclaimed coal site; these sites pose a continuing threat to the health, economy, and living environments for citizens of these communities. This bill is an exciting bipartisan opportunity for communities that have historically depended on the coal industry to rebuild themselves. H.R. 1734 should be considered an essential addition to any infrastructure or economic recovery package.
In 1977, Congress established the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) fund under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. This established a per ton coal fee to help finance the reclamation and remediation of lands mined prior to 1977. In the 40 year history of the program, amazing strides have been made. The AML program has eliminated over 46,000 open mine portals, reclaimed over 1,000 miles of dangerous highwalls, restored water supplies to countless residents, created jobs and economic development opportunities, and protected 7.2 million people nationwide from AML hazards.
Funding for this essential program is set to expire this year, yet according to the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, it will cost at least $11.46 billion to reclaim the remaining high priority abandoned mines across the country.