An inventory of land and water impacted by past mining (primarily coal mining) is maintained by OSMRE to provide information needed to implement the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA). The inventory contains information on the location, type, and extent of AML impacts, as well as, information on the cost associated with the reclamation of those problems. The inventory is based upon field surveys by State, Tribal, and OSMRE program officials. It is dynamic to the extent that it is modified as new problems are identified and existing problems are reclaimed.
The Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Act (AMRA) of 1990, amended SMCRA. The amended law expanded the scope of data OSMRE must collect regarding AML reclamation programs and progress. On December 20, 2006, SMCRA was amended under the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 to add sources of program funding, emphasize high priority coal reclamation, and expand OSMRE’s responsibilities towards implementation and management of the AML Inventory.
Who provides the information for the AML Inventory?
The information is developed and/or updated by the States and Indian Tribes managing their own AML programs under SMCRA or by the OSMRE office responsible for States and Indian Tribes not managing their own AML problems.
Where is the AML Inventory Kept?
OSMRE maintains the AML Inventory on a computerized system called the Abandoned Mine Land Inventory System (e-AMLIS).
Types of Problems
The most serious AML problems are those posing a threat to health, safety and general welfare of people (Priority 1 and Priority 2, or "high priority"). These are the only problems which the law requires to be inventoried. There are 17 Priority 1 and 2 problem types.
Under the 2006 amendments to SMCRA, AML grants to states and tribes increased from $145 million in FY 2007 to $227 in FY 2015. The increase in funding allowed states to take responsibility for their AML emergencies as part of their regular AML programs.
Until FY 2011, OSMRE provided Abandoned Mine Land (AML) State Emergency grants to the 15 states that manage their own emergency programs under the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program. Thirteen other states and tribes that had approved AML programs did not receive emergency grants. OSMRE managed emergencies in those 13 states and tribes as well as in Federal Program States without AML programs.
OSMRE officially notified the state and tribal officials and Congressional delegations that, starting on October 1, 2010, they would fully assume responsibility for funding their emergency programs. OSMRE then worked with states and tribes to ensure a smooth transition to the states’ assumption of responsibility for administering state emergency programs. New funding and carryover balances were used during the transition to address immediate needs.
Overall, OSMRE successfully transitioned the financial responsibility to the states in FY 2011, and continues to provide technical and program assistance when needed. States with AML programs are now in a position to effectively handle emergency programs.
AML problems impacting the environment are known as Priority 3 problems. While SMCRA does not require OSMRE to inventory every unreclaimed priority 3 problem, some program States and Indian tribes have chosen to submit such information. Information for priority 3 problem types is required when reclamation activities are funded and information on completed reclamation of priority 3 problems is kept in the inventory.
Other Coal Mine Related Problems
The 1990 amendments to SMCRA eliminated the original Priority 4 pertaining to AML reclamation research and renumbered Priority 5 Priority 4 and Priority 6 Priority 5. The 2006 amendments to SMCRA eliminated Priorities 4 and 5 for future projects, however, the e-AMLIS will continue to maintain historical information on Priority 4 and 5 projects completed prior to the amendments.
Non-coal Mine Related AML Problems
The non-coal problems are primarily problems reclaimed by States/Indian tribes that had "Certified" having addressed all known eligible coal related problems. States and Indian tribes managing their own AML programs reclaimed non-coal problems prior to addressing all their coal related problems under SMCRA SEC. 409-- FILLING VOIDS AND SEALING TUNNELS at the request of the Governor of the state or the governing body of the Indian tribe if the Secretary of the Department of the Interior determines such problems meet the criteria for a priority 1, extreme hazard, problems. This Program Area contains historical reclamation accomplishments for Certified Programs reclaiming Priority 1, 2, and 3 non-coal Problem Type features with pre-AML Reauthorization SMCRA funds distributed prior to October 1, 2007.