Coal Companies Could Catch a Break

Coal Companies Could Catch a Break

August 24, 2021

As Congress continues to debate this historic infrastructure bill, lawmakers have the opportunity to make a historic investment in mining communities across the country. E&E News discusses the current standings of the bill. The Senate has already approved distributing $11.3 billion in general treasury funds for the Department of Interiors abandoned mine land (AML) reclamation program.

The AML was formed in 1977, and mining companies have funded the program by paying fees on coal production. Within this deal the fees companies were paying are now being reduced by 20%, giving coal companies a much-needed break.

The National Mining Association cheered the AML reauthorization provisions in the infrastructure package, calling them “a welcome investment in an immensely important program.”

NMA spokesperson Conor Bernstein said that the fee reduction helps mining companies who have suffered during the U.S. coal industry’s long decline since peak production in 2008. He noted NMA’s view is that administration of the AML fund has seen too few dollars spent on high-priority reclamation.

“To date, the coal industry has paid nearly $12 billion into the AML fund to reclaim legacy abandoned mines only to see much of those funds disappear,” Bernstein said via email.

It is important for Congress to recognize how important the coal industry is to the United States. Reducing the fees companies must pay to the AML is a good place to start. Since Americans need and depend on reliable energy such as fossil fuels, we hope more can be done to support the vital industry.