West Virginia will receive millions in federal money to clean up abandoned coal mines.
U.S. Representative Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) announced that the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement had released $66.5 million in Abandoned Mine Land (AML) funding to the State of West Virginia.
“This new funding, the most ever granted to our State under this program, will enable us to continue the good work of restoring our mined lands, while also creating job opportunities for West Virginians,” Rahall said. “I have always defended the AML program as key to achieving that balance we seek in coal country, enabling us to keep miners employed while preserving our coal mining communities and the safety of area residents.”
Rahall is a longtime champion of the AML program, repeatedly pushing through legislation to keep the program operating, having most recently successfully won passage of legislation to reauthorize and revitalize the program in 2006.
Funding for AML grants come from coal receipts and is distributed through a congressionally mandated formula. The AML program was created through the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 to pay for the cleanup of lands mined but left unreclaimed prior to its enactment.
In total, the Department of Interior and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement announced nearly a half a billion dollars in grants for 28 coal-producing states and tribes to eliminate health and safety hazards caused by past coal mining.
Since 1977, the office has provided more than $7.2 billion to help reclaim more than 295,000 acres of abandoned mine sites.
“This new higher level of AML monies is made possible by increased funding mandated through the legislation I worked on in 2006. Restoring our mined lands makes our communities more livable today and more prosperous tomorrow,” said Rahall.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.