Reclaiming Abandoned Mine Lands
Title IV of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act
Restoring the Environment
Coal mining has been common in the United States for nearly two centuries. Prior to the passage of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) of 1977, there was no regulatory oversight of coal operators or what happened to mines after mining stopped. As a result, millions of Americans live less than a mile from an abandoned coal mine.
Abandoned Mine Land Program
The OSMRE Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Reclamation Program addresses the hazards and environmental degradation posed by legacy coal mines. While AMLs can be dangerous and unwelcoming, through reclamation, this land can find a new purpose.
Title IV of SMCRA created the AML Reclamation Program which has been funded by a fee assessed on each ton of coal produced since August 3, 1977. As originally enacted, SMCRA authorized collection of the fee for 15 years. To sustain the program, Congress has amended SMCRA to change the structure of the fee three times and reauthorize fee collection eight times since its inception. Most recently, this was done in 2021 under the authority of Public Law No. 117-58 which adjusted the fee structure and extended OSMRE's fee collection authority through September 30, 2034.
The AML Fund has collected $11.674 billion through a reclamation fee assessed on each ton of coal that is produced.
OSMRE has distributed $6.064 billion in AML grants to states and tribes from the collected fees. An additional $1.548 billion was transferred to United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) Health and Retirement Funds, and $1.849 billion has been used for OSMRE operating expenses and AML emergencies. $2.213 billion of the AML Fund remains unappropriated.
For more information, see the most recent Status of the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Fund report.
Each year, OSMRE calculates the specific proportion of AML grant funding to be awarded to each state and tribe. The 2006 SMCRA Amendments mandated this AML grant distribution process.
The distribution is determined using 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 Economic Revitalization
The Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) Program (previously known as the AML Pilot Program) provides grants to the 6 Appalachian states with the highest amount of unfunded Priority 1 and Priority 2 Abandoned Mine Land (AML) sites and 3 tribes with AML Programs. Priority sites are determined using the e-AMLIS inventory data.
- Report on Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Economic Development Pilot Program (AML Pilot Program) for FY 2016 - FY 2019
The intent of the AMLER Program is to explore and implement strategies to return legacy coal sites to productive uses.
- For FY 2022, the following states will each receive $26.63 million: Kentucky, Pennsylvania, West Virginia
- For FY 2022, the following states will each receive $10.652 million: Alabama, Ohio, Virginia
- For FY 2022, the following Tribes will each receive $3.551 million: Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Crow Tribe
These funds will be used to accelerate the remediation of AML sites while offering opportunities for economic revitalization and community development.
To learn more about funding for FY 2022 AMLER projects, visit the Guidance for Project Eligibility Under the Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization Program for FY 2022. This guidance document also includes information on real property and reporting requirements for all AMLER projects.
NOTE: The FY 2022 guidance applies to all AMLER projects including the most recent fiscal year (FY 2022) and all previous years of the AMLER Program (FY 2016 – FY 2021)
Reclamation in Action
The Abandoned Mine Land Inventory System (e-AMLIS) is a computer system used to store, manage, and report on OSMRE's Inventory of Abandoned Mine Land Problems. This includes both problems in need of reclamation and those that have been reclaimed.
Questions regarding e-AMLIS should be sent via email to email@example.com