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Utah eligible for over $5M for mining land reclamation

By Ashtyn Asay - Daily Herald | Aug 4, 2022

EVAN COBB, Daily Herald file photo

Derek Martinez, an employee of The Xcavation Company, operates an excavator to fill in an old mine on Wednesday May 16, 2018, near Eureka.

The Department of the Interior announced Wednesday that Utah is eligible to receive over $5 million in funding for projects dedicated to reclaiming abandoned mine lands.

The $5,769,000 comes from nearly $725 million made available to 22 states and the Navajo Nation by President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law with the intent of creating more economic opportunities in coal communities across the nation.

Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was passed with the intention of making investments in America’s infrastructure, including transportation, water, high-speed internet access, and addressing the effects of climate change and pollution.

“Through this program, we are investing in coal communities through job creation — including for current and former coal workers — and economic revitalization, all while addressing harmful environmental impacts from these legacy developments,” Secretary Deb Haaland said in a press release. “We encourage all eligible states and Tribes to apply for this funding so we can reduce hazardous pollution and toxic water levels that continue to impact our communities.”

Abandoned mine land reclamation projects include closing potentially dangerous mine shafts, reclaiming unstable slopes, preventing releases of harmful gases, treating acid mine drainage and restoring water supplies damaged by mining.

“(Abandoned mine land) reclamation projects also enable economic revitalization by rehabilitating hazardous land so that it can be used for recreational facilities or other economic redevelopment uses like advanced manufacturing and renewable energy deployment,” stated the press release.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will allocate $11.3 billion in funding for abandoned mine land reclamation projects over the next 15 years in the hope of creating new jobs for current and former coal workers and remedying pollution caused by past coal mining.

This funding is also meant to advance Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which according to the White House website has the goal of delivering 40% of the benefits of certain federal investments to communities that have been burdened by the effects of pollution.

Qualifications for states to receive funding for abandoned mine land reclamation projects include:

  • The prioritization of projects that invest in disadvantaged communities consistent with the president’s Justice40 initiative;
  • The incorporation of public review and comment into the selection of projects to be funded;
  • The consideration of prioritizing projects in a manner that maximizes the amount of methane emissions that can be reduced; and
  • The prioritization of employment of current and former coal industry workers, among other provisions.

Eligible states must submit applications for the fiscal year 2022 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law by March 31, 2023.


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