DOI announces $140 million for abandoned mine land grants

April 24, 2024

The Department of the Interior (DOI) has allocated $140 million to tackle dangerous and polluting abandoned mine lands (AML) in West Virginia. The money comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and builds upon grants of the same amount from FY 2023.

AMLs pose risks of water pollution, land degradation and health hazards due to historic coal mining. Addressing AMLs requires strategies for water treatment, land reclamation and community redevelopment to mitigate environmental and social impacts while promoting sustainable land use.

“There are thousands of miles of streams throughout Appalachia that are polluted and lifeless due to acid runoff from former mines,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Dr. Steve Feldgus said in a statement.

The BIL allocates $11.3 billion in AML funding over 15 years. This funding supplements annual AML grants from active coal sites, both of which are facilitated by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE). OSMRE’s AML reclamation program has provided $8 billion since it was enacted almost 50 years ago.

One project is partly funded by AML grants to West Virginia is the Richard Mine acid mine drainage treatment plant, which extracts rare earth elements from acid mine drainage of the defunct Richard Mine. It then releases treated, clean water into Deckers Creek.

There is almost $540 million in AML grants being distributed in other states, and the program is still accepting applications on a rolling basis, prioritizing projects that employ dislocated coal industry workers.  AML funding is expected to address all recorded AML sites in the next 15 years.

Photo courtesy of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection

Gracie Warhurst

Gracie Warhurst has joined Strategic Partnerships, Inc. as a writer and digital content creator for the new Government Market News portal. With a rich background in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, Warhurst has experience as editor-in-chief of a literary magazine, assistant web editor, and project manager for an AI journalism project. She also contributed as a reporter during the development of SPI's news portal. Warhurst graduated summa cum laude in December 2023 with a Bachelor's in Journalism and a certificate in creative writing, making her a valuable asset to the SPI team.

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