Pennsylvania has long been a leader in the area of abandoned mine land (AML) reclamation and has completed reclamation of several thousand AML sites across the coal fields of Pennsylvania. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) of 1977 established national standards for coal mining and requirements for reclamation of mine sites. Title IV of SMCRA created the AML Program to reclaim mined areas that meet a legal definition of abandonment (no party with continuing reclamation responsibility for mine sites abandoned prior to 1977) and that pose significant health, safety or environmental hazards to the public. SMCRA requires all active coal mine operators to pay a reclamation fee on each ton of coal mined which is used to fund the AML program. The Pennsylvania AML Program received primacy approval from the Federal Office of Surface Mining in July 1982. Even before SMCRA, the commonwealth had already put forth years of committed effort to reclaim abandoned mine lands throughout Pennsylvania with a special state funded reclamation program known as 'Operation Scarlift'.
Under the SMCRA Title IV AML Program, Pennsylvania has reclaimed thousands of dangerous sites left by abandoned coal mines, resulting in increased safety for its residents including several projects which have been recognized nationally as award winning reclamation projects. As of the end of 2016, the federal eAMLIS database reports more than 72,225 acres of abandoned coal mine sites have been reclaimed, with a construction cost of $643.8 million. The majority of the reclamation is completed through competitively bid construction contracts which provide jobs and related economic activity. Additionally, the Pennsylvania AML Program maintains two in-house construction crews, one in Ebensburg (western Pennsylvania) and one in Wilkes-Barre (eastern Pennsylvania) which complete 100-200 small reclamation projects each year. Summaries of the accomplishments from the last several calendar years and a summary of the numbers and types of hazardous sites reclaimed through the end of 2016 under Pennsylvania's AML Program are included below.
The Pennsylvania AML program has developed many partnerships with outside groups, agencies and the industry to reclaim more AML acreage faster and with greater efficiencies. Through the cooperation of private land owners, industry representatives, federal agencies, local officials and watershed groups, thousands of acres of abandoned mined land have been transformed into productive land such as: woodland, farmland, pasture, open space, industrial sites, wildlife habitat and recreational areas. Even with the tremendous progress made to date, Pennsylvania still has thousands of unreclaimed, hazardous mine sites in need of remediation. The current funding under the SMCRA Title IV AML Program is currently set to continue through federal Fiscal Year 2021-22.
Report from the federal eAMLIS inventory of the cumulative AML problems completed in Pennsylvania through calendar year 2016:
Annual summaries of reclamation contracts awarded:
Highlighted projects completed in 2016:
Highlighted projects completed in 2015:
Highlighted projects completed in 2014:
- Ansonville East Project, Clearfield County (PDF)
- Boyers Knob Lookout Project, Northumberland County (PDF)
- Coal Run Project, Allegheny County (PDF)
- Glassport Project, Allegheny County (PDF)
- Green Mountain Project, Luzerne County (PDF)
- Redland Mine Drainage Treatment Project, Allegheny County (PDF)
- Rocks Works Bowood #1 Project, Fayette County (PDF)
- Simpson Northeast Project, Lackawanna County (PDF)
- Truittsburg Southwest Project, Clarion County (PDF)
- Weedville Project, Elk County (PDF)
Highlighted projects completed in 2013:
Highlighted projects completed in 2012:
Highlighted projects completed in 2011: