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Abandoned mine land grants available to tribes

WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced Dec. 22 that the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is making $369 million available to states and tribes to restore abandoned coal mines, an increase of more than $70 million from last year.

The 28 eligible coal-producing states and tribes receive the grants by formula, based on both their past and present coal production.

“These grants have consistently provided well-paying jobs in America’s economically depressed coal mining areas,” Salazar said.

“It is estimated that OSM’s Abandoned Mine Lands program created thousands of new jobs last year alone, and this year’s increased funding will put more Americans to work and help them find their way out of this recession. Restoring lands and waters affected by past mining practices keeps jobs in areas hard hit by the economic downturn.”

“Over the past 30 years, OSM, working with states, tribes, and our Good Samaritan partners, has reclaimed more land and restored more streams than any other federal agency,” added Joe Pizarchik, OSM director.

“Since its inception, OSM and its state and tribal partners have invested over $6.8 billion to reclaim more than 220,000 acres of abandoned mine lands.”

The Abandoned Mine Land program is funded through fees assessed on annual coal production and pays the costs of these reclamation projects.

Funds available to tribes for fiscal year 2010 are as follows:

  • Crow Tribe – $1,816,094
  • Hopi Tribe – $1,101,928

  • Navajo Nation – $6,505,765