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Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Announces More Than $1.7 Million to Revitalize Coal Communities in Arkansas


Date: December 20, 2022

WASHINGTON – The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement today announced more than $1.7 million in fiscal year 2022 funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to reclaim abandoned mine lands in Arkansas.

Millions of Americans nationwide live within just one mile of an abandoned coal mine or orphaned oil and gas well. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocated a total of $16 billion to address legacy pollution, including $11.3 billion in abandoned mine land funding over 15 years, facilitated by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. This historic funding is expected to address the majority of inventoried abandoned coal mine lands in the nation, which will help communities eliminate dangerous environmental conditions and pollution caused by historic coal mining.    

“Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we have this once-in-a-generation investment to address the majority of abandoned mine lands problems,” said OSMRE Deputy Director Glenda Owens. “The reclamation landscape of tomorrow presents endless opportunities to revitalize the coal communities as our country transitions to clean energy.”

The Department of the Interior has announced over $644 million in awards in the last three months for Alabama, Alaska, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. Funding will be awarded to additional eligible states and Tribes on a rolling basis as they apply.

AML reclamation supports jobs in coal 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 like advanced manufacturing and renewable energy deployment. As required by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, funding will prioritize projects that employ dislocated coal industry workers.

This effort also advances the President’s Justice40 Initiative that commits to delivering 40% of the benefits of certain climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities.       

As required by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, allocations are determined based on the number of tons of coal historically produced in each state or on Indian lands before August 3, 1977, when the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 was enacted. States are guaranteed at least $20 million over the 15-year life of the program if their inventory of AML sites would cost more than $20 million to address. As state AML inventories are updated, future distributions will change. 

These Bipartisan Infrastructure Law AML funds supplement traditional annual AML grants, which are funded by active coal operations. Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding is ensured to be provided through 2034, thanks to language in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Under the AML reclamation program, OSMRE has provided more than $8 billion to reclaim lands and waters that were mined or affected by mining prior to 1977, when SMCRA was enacted by Congress.      


OSMRE carries out the requirements of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 in cooperation with states and Tribes. OSMRE’s objectives are to ensure that coal mining activities are conducted in a manner that protects citizens and the environment during mining, to ensure that the land is restored to beneficial use after mining, and to mitigate the effects of past mining by aggressively pursuing reclamation of abandoned coal mines.