Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fee Extension Act of 2019 to extend the Abandoned Mine Land Fund (AML) fee that is set to expire in fiscal year 2021. Since its creation in 1977, the AML fund has collected $11.1 billion in fees and distributed the funds in AML grants to states and tribes for the use of addressing and reclaiming the hazards and environmental degradation caused by legacy mine sites that were abandoned.
“The success of the AML fund is unquestionable. Since the creation of the program, we have seen 800,000 acres of damaged land and water reclaimed. It is our responsibility to leave the land in as good or better shape than we found it, and AML funding is a crucial resource in that effort. I am proud to lead the charge to extend the AML fees to ensure we can continue restoring abandoned mine lands to make them safer and more inhabitable for our coal communities,” Senator Manchin said.
Since the passage of the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) of 1977, $5.7 billion in AML fees have been disbursed to states to reclaim AML legacy sites, including 800,000 acres of damaged land and water. Despite this success, the existing backlog of AML needs are estimated to be more than $10 billion. These AML sites continue to pose a threat to the health, safety and vitality of these coal communities – particularly in Appalachia. The Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fee Extension Act of 2019 recognizes the continuing contributions of the coal industry to our economy, and the need for existing environmental clean-up by extending the AML fee period for an additional 15 years.