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Abandoned Mine Land Funding

Congress enacted the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) on Aug. 3, 1977. One of the primary purposes of SMCRA was to promote the reclamation of mined areas abandoned and left without adequate reclamation prior to Aug. 3, 1977, and which continue, in their unreclaimed condition, to substantially degrade the quality of the environment, prevent or damage the beneficial use of land or water resources, or endanger the health or safety of the public. Title IV of SMCRA established the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Trust Fund to be used for the reclamation and restoration of areas affected by past mining. The Fund is derived from a reclamation fee on clean coal produced by underground and surface coal mining. Initially, the fees were set at 35 cents per ton for surface-mined coal and 15 cents per ton for coal mined underground. That fee structure remained in place until 2008 when the fees were reduced by 10% to 31.5 cents per ton for surface-mined coal and 13.5 cents per ton for coal produced by underground or deep mining methods. Beginning in 2013, the fees were reduced to 28 cents per ton for surface-mined coal and 12 cents per ton for coal mined underground in accordance with the requirements set forth in the 2006 reauthorization of SMCRA. The federal Office of Surface Mining collects the fees from coal production across the country and then grants the monies back to states and tribes with approved Abandoned Mine Reclamation Programs, like Pennsylvania.

SMCRA has been reauthorized several times since its initial passage in 1977. The latest and most current reauthorization occurred in 2006 as part of the Tax Relief & Health Care Act of 2006, enacted on Dec. 20, 2006. This reauthorization made significant changes in the AML Program.

Summary of 2006 Amendment Changes

  • Reduced fees paid on coal production
    • By 10% for the period 2008-2012
    • By 20% for the period 2013-2021
  • Extended the fee collection until 2021
  • Required mandatory distribution of fee collections to states/tribes outside of the congressional appropriation process
  • The 30 percent cap on water supply replacement project funding was removed
  • Increased the allowable AMD Set-Aside amount from 10 percent to 30 percent of state and historical shares
  • Required states to focus on the elimination of Priority 1 and 2 sites - the protection of public health, safety and property.

Since 1980, Pennsylvania has received $1,478,388,280 from the AML Trust Fund for use in administering Pennsylvania's Abandoned Mine Land Program and reclaiming abandoned mine sites.

Click to view a year-by-year summary of Pennsylvania's AML Title IV Grants.

Visit OSM's website for National Summaries of AML Title IV Grants.