By Jessica Casey
June 2, 2022 - The Department of the Interior has released draft guidance for eligible states and the Navajo Nation on how to apply for the first US$725 million in funding available for reclaiming abandoned mine lands (AML) as part of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The law provides a total of US$11.3 billion in AML grant funding over 15 years, to eligible states and Tribes to help communities eliminate dangerous environmental hazards and pollution caused by past coal mining while creating jobs and providing opportunities to revitalise coal communities.
AML reclamation projects support vitally needed jobs by investing in projects that close dangerous mine shafts, reclaim unstable slopes, prevent releases of harmful gases, including methane, improve water quality by treating acid mine drainage and restore water supplies damaged by mining. AML reclamation projects also enable economic revitalisation by rehabilitating hazardous land so that it can be used for recreational facilities or other economic redevelopment uses such as advanced manufacturing and renewable energy deployment.
“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes historic investments in coal communities that will help revitalise local economies and support reclamation jobs that put people to work locally, including current and former coal workers, all while addressing harmful environmental impacts from these legacy developments,” said Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland. “The Biden-Harris administration is committed to addressing legacy pollution and helping working families who face hazardous pollution, toxic water levels, and land subsidence both during mining and long after coal companies have moved on.”
The draft guidance released provides instructions to eligible states and the Navajo Nation on how to apply for fiscal year 2022 AML grants under the Bipartisan Infra-structure Law. It also provides guidance to applicants to ensure that activities funded under the programme are putting people – especially current and former coal miners – to work protecting the environment, investing in disadvantaged communities consistent with the President’s Justice 40 Initiative, and safeguarding taxpayer money in a transparent and responsible manner.