The Wall Street Journal features a front page story highlighting that four states and three Native American tribes have received $180 million in federal funding with few strings attached to clean up abandoned mines when their reclamation worries have been largely fixed. At issue is a change made in 2006 to the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) program and a fund made up of fees imposed on coal companies meant to help clean up old sites and for reclamation efforts. The legislative change made disbursements to states “mandatory” instead of “discretionary” through the Congressional appropriations process, and consequently there is little funding left for other states with long-term clean up projects that may take decades.
According to the Department of Interior the top five states receiving AML funding in FY 2012 are:
- Wyoming – $150 million
- Pennsylvania – $67.2 million
- West Virginia – $66.5 million
- Kentucky – $47 million
- Illinois – $24 million