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Monday, July 15, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Biden administration puts $725 million toward coal mining cleanup

The money is part of $11.3 billion set aside to benefit former coal communities.

WASHINGTON (CN) — The Biden administration is releasing $725 million for 22 states and the Navajo Nation to clean up abandoned mines and reduce related pollution.

The money comes from the bipartisan infrastructure law, which set aside $11.3 billion in funding for coal mining cleanup projects. The Department of the Interior has already awarded more than $1.4 billion in two years since the law was passed.

Former coal communities now face pollution from abandoned mine lands, including toxic discharge into surrounding areas and waterways. The discharge also can cause structural issues in the abandoned mines and fuel underground fires.

The funding will support projects to close dangerous mine shafts, improve water quality, restore water supplies and stabilize compromised slopes. Money can also be used for economic development projects to redevelop mine lands for recreational uses, manufacturing or renewable energy.

Officials estimate that the money, when fully distributed over 15 years, will help communities reclaim the majority of former mining lands.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said the former coal communities have to deal with “hazardous pollution, toxic water levels, and land subsidence both during mining and long after coal companies have moved on.”

“Through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we are making historic investments to help revitalize local economies and support reclamation jobs that help put people to work in their communities, all while addressing environmental impacts from these legacy developments,” Haaland said in a statement. “These smart investments will build a cleaner, healthier and more just future for communities across the country.”  

The Interior Department plans to contribute toward 23 projects. Each state’s targeted funding ranges from $1.3 million for Texas to $244.7 million in Pennsylvania. 

"This unprecedented funding secured by the president is already making a difference in coal communities through new jobs, safer communities, and a cleaner environment,” said Steve Feldgus, deputy assistant secretary of interior for land and minerals management. “The third year of this historic investment is going to help states continue to expand their cleanup efforts and start tackling projects on a scale that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.” 

The Department of the Interior is accepting applications for this round of funding through June 30, 2025.

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Categories / Environment, Government

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