Abandoned Mine Land Trust Fund

In 2006, Pennsylvania was being largely left out on a rare opportunity to both protect and restore the environment and create badly needed jobs in the state’s coal-mining counties as SMCRA was sun-setting.

“It will take action by Congress and the President to change that,” say members of a statewide alliance of environmental groups, watershed associations, conservancies, and conservation districts that have joined a nation-wide campaign to speed up efforts to reclaim old abandoned mines and thousands of miles of streams impacted by abandoned mine drainage, more commonly known as AMD.

“…and it did.”  In December 2006 as one of the 109th Congress’s final acts before adjourning, the House and Senate passed legislation extending and revamping a federal law that mandates a reclamation fee on each ton of coal produced in the country. The new law will do a much better job of directing reclamation fees to abandoned mine lands (AML) problem areas, where funding is needed the most. Pennsylvania, for example, will receive a very substantial increase in the annual grant it receives through Title IV for abandoned mine reclamation.

Information on the Abandoned Mine Land Trust Fund from the Office of Surface Mining

The Surface Mining Law (Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977) provides for the restoration of lands mined and abandoned or left inadequately restored before August 3, 1977. Production fees of 35 cents per ton of surface mined coal, 15 cents per ton of coal mined underground and 10 cents per ton of lignite are collected from coal producers at all active coal mining operations. The fees are deposited in the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund, which is used to pay the reclamation costs of abandoned mine land projects. The fund consists of fees, contributions, late payment interest, penalties, administrative charges, and interest earned on investment of the fund’s principal. From January 30, 1978, when the first fees were paid, through June 30, 2007, the fund had collected $7,013,239,421 and fund appropriations totaled $5,493,809,291.

SMCRA was up for Reauthorization and will be again in 2022
Reclamation efforts in the coalfields across the country depend on this tax on coal. This tax on coal mining corporations is justified because for decades they paid nothing back to the communities and lands that they scarred. Mining operations only last for so many years, but the hazardous effect it has on the land and water continue for decades afterwards, causing health and safety issues for those who live near former mines. Millions of Americans still live less than a mile from a dangerous mine site.  By 2022, Pennsylvania will expect to see approximately $1.4 Billion in funding to help reclaim an estimated $15 Billion problem.      

AML Trust Fund Resources

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