OFFICE OF SURFACE MINING RECLAMATION AND ENFORCEMENT
OFFICE OF SURFACE MINING
February 6, 2006
OSM Budget Calls for Reauthorization of AML Fee Collection Authority, Increases Funding for State and Tribal Regulatory Programs
(Washington, DC) – The FY 2007 budget proposal for the US Office of Surface Mining is $298.1 million, an increase of $4.0 million above the 2006 enacted level.
The largest part of the increase helps states fund implementation of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA), which sets forth minimum uniform requirements for minimizing adverse effects of all coal surface mining including exploration activities and the surface effects of underground coal mining. Total funding requested for the regulatory and technology appropriations is $112.2 million, an increase of $3.3 million above FY2006 levels. The FY2007 budget again calls on Congress to reauthorize Abandoned Mine Land (AML) fee collection authority while continuing funding for State and Tribal reclamation grants and the Clean Streams program.
"This increase emphasizes the Administration’s and the Department’s commitment to protect people and the environment during active mining, return the land to productive use after mining, and reclaim dangerous mine land abandoned prior to the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act," said OSM acting director Brent Wahlquist. "The state regulatory grants and the reclamation projects funded in 2007 will enable us to mitigate more health, safety and environmental hazards."
State Regulatory Grants
The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act encourages states to assume the primary responsibility for regulating surface coal mining and reclamation on non-Indian lands within their borders through a system of annual grants of up to 50 percent of program administration. For the 24 states with primacy programs, the budget includes a $2.0 million increase in program and fixed costs for state regulatory grants. This will allow States and Tribes to continue oversight of active mining and ensure that reclamation is both timely and in full compliance with SMCRA. The remaining budget increase of $1.3 million funds 70 percent of OSM’s pay and benefits and 100 percent of other fixed costs within the Regulation and Technology programs.
Abandoned Mine Lands Appropriation
The FY2007 Abandoned Mine Land request of $185.9 million is an increase of $688,000. Abandoned Mine Land funding supports activities which include both State and Tribal reclamation grants and high priority federal reclamation efforts. Grants for States and Tribes to address problems with land and water resources resulting from past mining will be funded at $145.4 million.
Fees on Mined Coal
10 cents per ton on lignite, 15 cents per ton on underground mined coal and 35 cents per ton on surface mined coal are deposited into the Abandoned Mine Land fund. Accrued interest on unappropriated funds adds to the fund, a portion of which is available for transfer to the United Mine Workers Combined Benefit Fund to defray health care costs for retired miners and their dependents.
OSM’s Authority to collect these fees expires June 30, 2006. Both the 2005 and 2006 budgets were accompanied by a legislative proposal to reauthorize the abandoned mine fee that finances the Abandoned Mine Land program. The reauthorization proposal would substantially improve the program by reforming features of the current authorization that divert dollars away from the most serious reclamation needs.
The 2007 budget includes a proposal for an interim extension of OSM’s abandoned mine land fee collection authority through September 30, 2007. This extension will allow the continuation of reclamation activities under current law, while allowing the Administration to continue working with Congress on finding an appropriate, fiscally responsible and fair, long term resolution to the reauthorization discussion.
Clean Streams Funding
The proposed budget continues available funding for the successful Clean Stream program to empower partners in affected communities to address important local acid mine drainage pollution. Acid mine drainage from abandoned coal mines continues to be a major source of water pollution nationwide, and in Appalachia. Acid mine drainage is the leading cause of aquatic habitat impacting many native species, such as brook trout. The Clean Streams program has been particularly effective in fostering community partnerships and maximizing efficiency in the use of local resources in restoring water resources damaged by acid mine drainage.
In the last few years, while continuing its oversight and review of state programs, OSM has focused on innovative approaches to implementing the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act and measurable, on-the-ground results. To maximize reclamation from available funding, OSM has implemented creative approaches and incentives to reclamation of mine sites. OSM’s funding of Abandoned Mine Land projects in FY2007 will continue the protection of people living, working and recreating in the coal fields from the threat imposed by high priority health and safety coal related sites.
Click here for OSM FY07 Budget Highlights.
— OSM —