Fri Nov 17th, 2023
Revitalize Coal Communities in Colorado
On her second stop on the Biden-Harris administration’s Investing in Rural America event series, Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland was in Colorado recently to announce nearly $10 million in fiscal year 2023 funding from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to create good-paying jobs and catalyze economic opportunity by reclaiming abandoned mine lands in the state.
Millions of Americans nationwide live less than a mile from an abandoned coal mine. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides a total of $16 billion to address legacy pollution, including $11.3 billion in abandoned mine land (AML) funding over 15 years, facilitated by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE). This historic funding is expected to address the majority of currently inventoried abandoned coal mine lands in the nation, which will help communities address and eliminate dangerous environmental conditions and pollution caused by previous coal mining. Today’s announcement builds on nearly $10 million previously allocated to the state of Colorado in fiscal year 2022.
“Legacy pollution continues to impact far too many waterways and neighborhoods in rural America. Through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we are making once-in-a-generation investments to clean up environmental hazards that are harming local communities,” Secretary Haaland said. “Reclaiming and restoring these sites will create jobs, revitalize economic activity, and advance outdoor recreation across the country for the benefit of future generations.”
The announcement adds to the more than $11.4 million in fiscal year 2023 funds that have been granted so far to Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa and New Mexico, and the nearly $725 million awarded to 22 states and the Navajo Nation in fiscal year 2022. Abandoned mine land reclamation funding will be awarded to additional eligible states and Tribes on a rolling basis as they apply.
AML reclamation supports jobs in 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. It also enables economic revitalization by reclaiming hazardous land for recreational facilities and other economic redevelopment uses, such as advanced manufacturing and renewable energy deployment. As directed by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, funding will prioritize projects that employ dislocated coal industry workers.
This funding is a part of the Biden-Harris administration’s unprecedented investments in communities and workers to support an equitable transition to a sustainable economy and healthier environment after the closure of mines or power plants. It also advances the President’s Justice40 Initiative, which commits to delivering 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities.
AML funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law supplement traditional annual AML grants, which are funded by active coal operations. In the 46 years since the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 was enacted, OSMRE has provided more than $8 billion under the AML reclamation program to reclaim lands and waters that were mined or affected by mining prior to 1977.