Biden-Harris Propose $140M to Revitalize West Virginia Coal Areas

Interior Department

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. - Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Dr. Steve Feldgus traveled to Morgantown, West Virginia, today to announce more than $140 million in fiscal year 2023 funding from President Biden's Investing in America agenda to address dangerous and polluting abandoned mine lands (AML), create good-paying, family-sustaining jobs, and catalyze economic opportunity in coal communities across West Virginia. During his visit, Dr. Feldgus gave the plenary address at the West Virginia Mine Drainage Task Force Symposium & 15th International Mine Water Association Congress.

"There are thousands of miles of streams throughout Appalachia that are polluted and lifeless due to acid runoff from former mines," said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Dr. Steve Feldgus. "With once-in-a generation funding from President Biden's Investing in America agenda, we can create jobs and restore waterways to health while harvesting new sources of critical minerals that will help reduce our dependence on foreign nations."

"Our mission at OSMRE, at its core, is about making people safer, cleaning up the environment, and encouraging economic development in coal communities," said Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Principal Deputy Director Sharon Buccino. "What we will be able to accomplish due to the historic investment from President Biden's Investing in America agenda is an unprecedented, once-in-a-generation opportunity."

Millions of Americans nationwide live less than a mile from an abandoned coal mine. The President's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocated a total of $16 billion to address legacy pollution, including $11.3 billion in AML funding over 15 years, facilitated by OSMRE. This historic funding is expected to address nearly all of the currently inventoried abandoned coal mine lands in the nation, which will help communities address and eliminate dangerous conditions and pollution caused by historic coal mining.   

These Bipartisan Infrastructure Law AML funds supplement traditional annual AML grants, which are funded by active coal operations through OSMRE. During his visit, Dr. Feldgus toured the Richard Mine acid mine drainage treatment plant, which is in part funded by AML grants to West Virginia. The facility will extract rare earth elements from acid mine drainage emerging from the defunct Richard Mine and then discharge treated, clean water into Deckers Creek. In the 46 years since the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act was enacted, OSMRE has provided more than $8 billion under the AML reclamation program to reclaim lands and waters that were mined or affected by mining prior to 1977.

Today's announcement builds on nearly $140.7 million allocated to West Virginia in fiscal year 2022 from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. In addition to today's announcement, more than $539.6 million in awards for fiscal year 2023 have been announced to Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming. 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. Awards also enable economic revitalization by reclaiming hazardous land for recreational facilities and other redevelopment uses, such as advanced manufacturing and renewable energy deployment. As directed by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, funding will prioritize projects that employ dislocated coal industry workers. 

This funding is a part of the Biden-Harris administration's unprecedented investments in communities and workers to support an equitable transition to a sustainable economy and healthier environment after the closure of mines or power plants. This effort also advances the President's Justice40 Initiative that sets a goal to deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that have been historically marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution.  Additionally, reclaiming abandoned coal mines is a pillar of the Biden-Harris administration's Methane Action Plan, which includes historic efforts to reduce methane emissions-one of the biggest drivers of climate change-while creating good-paying jobs and promoting American innovation.

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