Industry Supports Abandoned Mine Lands Compromise Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Mining Association (NMA) today offered its support for Senator John Barrasso’s (R-Wy.) “Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fee Reauthorization Act of 2020.”

Although the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) fee was set to expire in 2021, while extending the fee, this new compromise legislation will help bring the program into closer alignment with its intended purpose: to clean up orphaned coal mining sites.

“Among industry’s primary concerns with the program have been the diversion of funds away from their intended purpose – the reclamation of coal mines that were abandoned prior to 1977 – and the lack of oversight to ensure expended funds are used properly,” said, Rich Nolan, NMA president and CEO. “This legislation will help to refocus the program on priority reclamation projects and examine the oversight required to ensure funds are not squandered on overhead and administrative costs.”

Originally created in 1977, the AML fee is set to expire on September 30, 2021; Sen. Barrasso’s bill would extend the fee until 2028.

To date, the coal industry has paid more than $11.6 billion into the AML fund to reclaim legacy abandoned mines only to see the majority of those funds disappear. Due to prior weaknesses in program management, just one in three dollars spent by the fund has gone to priority coal projects that the fund was intended to rehabilitate. A General Accounting Office (GAO) report found that between 1985-1990 $360 million, or 28 percent, of the $1.3 billion spent during that period was used for federal and state administrative expenses.


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