Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Programs
DMRM administers both a state abandoned mine land program (AML) and a federal AML program to reclaim those areas disturbed by coal mining operations and for which there is no continuing reclamation responsibility by a mine operator. Both programs are funded by severance taxes levied on the mining of coal.
The State AML Program is funded by a share of the seven cents per ton of the state coal severance tax. The state AML program focuses on reclamation of: lands that cause pollution of the waters of the state; lands that damage adjacent property; lands which, when reclaimed, can be used by the public for soil, water, forests, wildlife conservation, or public recreation purposes; lands which, when reclaimed, will facilitate commercial or industrial site development; and/or lands which, when reclaimed, will facilitate the use or improve the enjoyment of nearby public conservation or recreation lands. The state AML program reclaims lands affected prior to 1972. The projects in the state AML program are typically designed by and inspected by the DMRM staff.
The Federal AML Program includes an emergency program and a non-emergency program. Both are funded by a federal fee levied on mined coal. The fee for surface mined coal is thirty-five cents per ton and fifteen cents per ton for underground mined coal. The fees are paid on each ton of coal produced by coal mining companies. The fees are paid to the Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining (OSM) who then allocates the monies to the individual states. The monies received from OSM are used to reclaim lands that were affected by coal mining operations prior to 1977.
The Emergency Program focuses on problems that require immediate action to protect the public health, safety, general welfare, and property from extreme danger of the adverse impacts of coal mining practices.
The Non-Emergency Program focuses on projects to protect the public health, safety, and general welfare from adverse effects of coal mining practices and on projects to restore the land, water resources, and the environment previously degraded by adverse effects of coal mining practices. The federal AML projects may be designed by DMRM staff or a consultant, depending on the complexity and urgency of the project.
When such problems are encountered by the public and questions arise concerning the eligibility for reclamation of such features, please contact the local DMRM office. Some features are extremely dangerous and extreme caution should be exercised around any AML feature until the extent of danger is determined by DMRM experts.