Coal Bankruptcy

A dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy's Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyoming, in a 2017, file photo. (Mead Gruver/AP)

Colorado will receive $2.8 million from the federal government to close, eliminate and restore abandoned mining areas, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced on Thursday.

“[Abandoned Mine Land] grants provide states, tribes and local partners with important resources to reclaim lands and waters impacted by abandoned mines, restoring the promise of the outdoors for hardworking Americans in coal country,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said.

A 1977 law created a reclamation fee, currently at 28 cents per ton of coal produced at surface mines and 12 cents per ton produced underground. The fee is set to expire in September 2021. Twenty-five coal-producing states and three tribes share in the money collected based on a formula. Wyoming and Pennsylvania received over $32 million each this round, and West Virginia received over $22 million.

The $11.3 billion collected through the life of the program helped to close 45,000 abandoned underground mine shafts and openings. It also helped restore 850,000 acres of streams and land.

In 2018, the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s Denver field office reported that 97% of eligible mine lands had been reclaimed in Colorado. Since 2001, the state has soiled and seeded 21,632 ares, 132 of which took place in 2018.

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