Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced Wednesday more than $395 million in grants will be available across the nation for restoration of abandoned mine lands. Alaska will receive $2,398,714 of those funds.
The grants are administered by the department's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. They are funded in part by a per-ton reclamation fee levied on all coal produced in the United States. A press release states the fiscal year 2011 funding for the grants represents an increase of more than $25 million over last year.
The money is to allow state and tribal Abandoned Mine Land programs to correct environmental damage from past mining, reclaim steep and unstable slopes, improve water quality and restore water supplies.
"The AML Program represents real, on-the-ground service to communities," OSM Director Joe Pizarchik said in the release. "The program's grants allow local people to benefit in three ways. First, their state or tribe can address their highest local priorities first. Second, our partners hire local workers to the benefit of local economies, which triggers an economic multiplier effect. Finally, the entire community benefits from a cleaner environment."