Reclaiming Abandoned Mine Lands
Two centuries of US coal mining occurred before the passage of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) of 1977. As a result, millions of Americans live less than a mile from an abandoned coal mine. OSMRE, through its Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Reclamation Program, addresses the hazards and environmental degradation posed by these legacy mine sites.
Abandoned Mine Land Program
AML Fee Collection
Title IV of SMCRA created the AML reclamation program funded by a reclamation fee assessed on each ton of coal produced. As originally enacted, SMCRA authorized collection of reclamation fees for 15 years following the date of enactment (August 3, 1977). Subsequent legislation extended the fee collection authority seven times and lowered the fee rate. The fee collection is set to expire in 2021.
The Status of the AML Fund
The AML Fund has collected $11.288 billion through a reclamation fee assessed on each ton of coal that is produced. OSMRE has distributed $5.747 billion in AML grants to states and tribes from the collected fees. An additional $1.45 billion was transferred to United Mine Workers Association (UMWA) Health and Retirement Funds, and $1.77 billion has been used for OSMRE operating expenses and AML emergencies. Over $2.3 billion of the AML Fund remains unappropriated.
See the Status of the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Fund for additional information.
Distribution of AML Grants
The AML grant distribution is the process by which OSMRE calculates annually specific amount of AML grants to be awarded to each state and tribe. Since the 2006 SMCRA Amendments, AML grants have been mandatory distributions to states and tribes, which is based on a pre-set formula authorized by SMCRA. This formula takes into account AML fee collections, historic coal production, the various shares within the AML Fund (i.e. State/Tribal Share, Federal Expense Share, Historic Coal Share), the minimum program supplemental adjustments, the AML inventory and, any other special Appropriations Act provisions (e.g. sequestration).
- Abandoned Mine Land Inventory System (e-AMLIS)
- The Abandoned Mine Land Inventory System is a computer system used to store, manage, and report on the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement's Inventory of Abandoned Mine Land Problems. This includes both problems in need of reclamation and those that have been reclaimed.
- AML Reclamation Economic Development Pilot Program
- Annual Evaluation Reports for States and Tribes
- OSMRE establishes policies and procedures for evaluation of State and tribal abandoned mine land reclamation programs.
- Applicant/Violator System (AVS)
- The Applicant Violator System (AVS) is an automated information system owned and operated by OSMRE. Information on applicants, permittees, operators, application and permit records, as well as unabated or uncorrected environmental violations of SMCRA are maintained in this nationwide database for OSMRE’s Federal and State programs.
- Federal Assistance Manual (FAM)
- OSMRE uses this Federal Assistance Manual to show how OSMRE and its grantees manage Federal grants.
- Laws, Regulations, and Guidance
- National Mine Map Repository
- The National Mine Map Repository (NMMR) collects and maintains mine map information and images for the entire country.
- Reclamation Awards
- OSMRE recognizes deserving state regulatory agencies and coal mining companies with two annual award programs: one for high-quality reclamation projects at mines abandoned prior to when Congress enacted the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, (SMCRA), the other for reclamation of mines that began operating after the passage of the law.
- Regulatory Directives
- The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement policy directives are written communication provided in the form of instructions, manuals, notices, guides, policies, and procedures. These policy documents assist employees in effectively performing their jobs.
- State Contacts and Programs