US Department of Interior gives Oklahoma over $2 million to clean up and repurpose abandoned coal mines

Trucks on mine haul road.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt today announced Oklahoma can receive $2,814,000 in Fiscal Year 2019 Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Reclamation grants through the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE).

“These grants are a great example of Interior partnering with states, Tribes, and local governments to provide resources for conservation efforts and infrastructure and public safety improvements, like fixing embankments, stabilizing land above underground mines, and restoring streams,” said Acting Secretary Bernhardt. “The investment we’re making back into coal country helps protect people, land, water and property, and enhances the lives of local citizens.”

AML grants, funded in part by a fee based on coal produced in the United States, help to eliminate dangerous conditions and pollution caused by past coal mining.

AML-funded projects have closed dangerous mine shafts, eliminated highwalls, reclaimed unstable slopes, treated acid mine drainage, and restored water supplies damaged by mining.

This year’s grants will provide more than $291.2 million in total for states and tribes to reclaim and repurpose abandoned coal lands.

OSMRE provides AML grants to the 25 coal-producing states and three 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. OSMRE evaluates and verifies the requests, and makes the award amounts available.

The authority to collect AML reclamation fees is slated to expire in September 2021, unless Congress reauthorizes the fee.

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