Biden-Harris Administration Announces $74 Million to Address Legacy Pollution and Revitalize Coal Communities in Kentucky

Last edited 02/29/2024

Date: Thursday, February 29, 2024

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Acting Deputy Secretary of the Interior Laura Daniel-Davis joined Governor Andy Beshear in Kentucky today to announce $74.2 million in fiscal year 2023 funding from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to address dangerous and polluting abandoned mines, create good-paying, family-sustaining jobs and catalyze economic opportunity in the state. Today’s announcement builds on the $74.2 million allocated to the state of Kentucky in fiscal year 2022. 

The visit is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s fourth Investing in America tour to highlight the impact of the President’s agenda in communities across the country. 

“Through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we have a historic opportunity to address nearly all currently inventoried abandoned mine lands across the country and create good-paying, family sustaining jobs in coal communities in the process,” said Acting Deputy Secretary Laura Daniel-Davis. “With these new resources, the Biden-Harris administration is creating new economic opportunities, improving the health, safety and quality of life of so many Americans and making a real, tangible, coordinated investment in Appalachia.” 

Abandoned Mine Land (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 economic 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. 

While in Kentucky, Acting Deputy Secretary Daniel-Davis and Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) Principal Deputy Director Sharon Buccino toured a project funded through the state’s fiscal year 2022 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law grant that will remediate mine openings and drainage issues that are negatively impacting Johnson County residents and roadways. They also toured the East Kentucky Advanced Manufacturing Institute, which retrains workers from the eastern Kentucky regions in preparation for new careers in automation and robotics. The Institute is benefiting from $2.5 million in Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) Program grants, which helped renovate existing structures and campus grounds. The AMLER Program, administered by OSMRE, supports local investment opportunities that provide for sustainable long-term rehabilitation of coalfield economies. 

“Our mission at OSMRE, at its core, is about making people safer, cleaning up the environment, and encouraging economic development in coal communities,” said OSMRE 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.”   

Acting Deputy Secretary Daniel-Davis today also unveiled the Department’s new Appalachia Keystone Initiative, part of the Restoration and Resilience Framework, to address the critical intersection of climate change with ecological, social and economic needs of the region. The Appalachian Mountains are home to a wide array of plant and animal species, “superhighways” of species migration, resilient forests and headwaters of most of the great rivers of the East Coast. The effects of legacy pollution are significant throughout Appalachia, due to a long legacy of coal mining and oil and gas development. Through local partnerships, the Appalachia Keystone Initiative will coordinate investments across the region to enhance biodiversity, expand outdoor recreation and tackle legacy pollution.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocated a total of $16 billion to address legacy pollution, including $11.3 billion in abandoned mine land funding over 15 years. 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 environmental conditions and pollution caused by historic coal mining.  

To date, nearly $197.9 million in AML awards for fiscal year 2023 have been announced to Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas and Wyoming. Funding will be awarded to additional eligible states and Tribes on a rolling basis as they apply.  

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 are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution. 

These Bipartisan Infrastructure Law AML funds supplement traditional annual AML grants, which are funded by active coal operations. In the 46 years since SMCRA 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. 


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