The federal government has released $298 million for cleanup of abandoned and hazardous coal mine sites, $9 million of it designated for three tribes. Above, a typical coal mine.

Feds Release $9 Million for Cleanup of Abandoned Coal Mines on Tribal Lands


The Navajo Nation and the Crow and Hopi tribes, plagued with issues stemming from hazardous abandoned coalmines, are eligible for more than $9 million in federal funding for cleanup this year, the Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement announced on February 24.

It’s their portion of a total $298 million in 2014 Abandoned Mine Land grants being awarded to 28 states and the three tribes “to help eliminate dangerous conditions and pollution caused by past coal mining,” the mining reclamation office said in a media release. “AML-funded projects include closing dangerous mine shafts, reclaiming unstable slopes, improving water quality by treating acid mine drainage, and restoring water supplies damaged by mining.”

The grants fund work similar to what the Navajo Nation has undertaken in its purchase of the Billiton coal mine, which was finalized in December. This mine, still operational, does not fall under the purview of the mining reclamation grants.

RELATED: Navajo Nation Is Coal Country as Mine Sale Finalized

Is the Navajo Mine a Viable Option? Growing Opposition Doesn’t Think So

Under the latest round of funding from the mining reclamation office the Crow Tribe is eligible for $1.6 million, the Hopi for $1.2 million and the Navajo Nation for $6.2 million. The tribes and other entities have until the end of September, when the current fiscal year closes, to apply for the annual reclamation grants, the mining reclamation office said. Since the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 was enacted, the media release said, upwards of $7.8 billion has been spent to clean up more than 370,000 acres of “high-priority hazardous abandoned mine sites.”

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page



bullbear's picture
Submitted by bullbear on
$9 million for three tribes' to clean and restore highly hazardous mine sites is a mere pittance for each tribe to even begin work on reclamation projects. Studies, plans, timetables, equipment, personnel, insurance, and meeting requirements to declare a project complete will either leave work unfinished or with subpar results when these funds are exhausted. What that leaves is for the surrounding communities to continue and suffer the consequences of not bringing the ecosystem to a full rehabilitative state. Although the coal companies pay into the AML funds based upon the tons of coal extracted during the lifetime of operation, what is actually paid out to each state is only a small percentage -- No thanks to Congress. And when that is broken down to tribes, what you end up with is pennies to the dollar to repair an ecosystem that is suppose to be brought back to a better state than it was originally found. The chances that to happen are slim to none. Just as a small example, when a road is being built and a bulldozer cuts open an underground stream that has been there for thousands of years, it can never be repaired to its original state. The coal industry has far reaching devastation and always will be one of worst enemies to our fragile environment.