U.S. Announces Coal Cleanup Grants


"Grants will create jobs and remove health/safety hazards of past coal mining"

The U.S. Department of the Interior says it will make $395 million available to states and tribes for cleaning up abandoned coal mines across the nation.

In announcing the program Wednesday, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said the grants administered by the department's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, would generate jobs and eliminate health and safety hazards caused by past coal mining, an Interior Department release said.

"These grants have significant economic and environmental impacts in coalfield communities across the country," Salazar said. "In the past three years alone, OSM has distributed more than a billion dollars in these funds to states and tribes, enabling them to undertake projects that benefit the environment while employing people living in affected areas."

The grants, funded in part by a per-ton reclamation fee levied on all coal produced in the United States, allow state and tribal programs to correct environmental damage from past mining, reclaim steep and unstable slopes, improve water quality by treating acid mine drainage, and restore water supplies damaged by mining.

A 2009 Department of the Interior economic study showed that when state and tribal programs invested the $298 million available during that fiscal year, the cumulative economic impact in the communities where projects were completed was an estimated $733 million.

The grants are awarded to 28 coal-producing states and tribes using a formula based on their past and present coal production.

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