States and tribes awarded $485 million to clean up abandoned coal mines

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) Director Joe Pizarchik last month announced nearly half a billion dollars in grants for states and tribes to eliminate health and safety hazards caused by past coal mining. This year's funding - a $90 million increase over last year - will generate more than $1 billion in economic activity and support thousands of jobs across the country.

Funding for Abandoned Mine Land (AML) grants comes from coal receipts and is distributed through a congressionally mandated formula under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). Fiscal year 2012 grants will total more than $485 million, the highest amount ever awarded.

"When our nation enacted mining reform in 1977, we made a simple and bold promise that the revenues from coal extraction today should help clean up the legacy of coal mining many years ago," said Secretary Salazar. "These grants help fulfill that promise while putting men and women to work across the country on restoration projects that will bring lands back to life, clean up rivers, and leave a better legacy for our children and grandchildren."

A recently issued Interior report estimated that the $369 million in AML grants made available for fiscal year 2010 delivered an economic impact of $1.1 billion dollars and was directly responsible for more than 8,600 jobs. With an increase of $90 million over fiscal year 2011 funding levels, the economic impact of the $485 million in grants announced today is expected to exceed that of last year's funding.

Among the leading state recipients of 2012 AML grants are Wyoming ($150 million); Pennsylvania ($67.2 million); West Virginia ($66.5 million); Kentucky ($47 million); and Illinois ($24 million). Indian tribal governments receiving the grants include the Navajo Nation ($7.2 million); Crow Tribe ($2.2. million); and Hopi Tribe ($1.4 million).

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