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Pennsylvania to receive $26.6 million to clean and redevelop abandoned mine lands

  • By Jillian Forstadt/WESA
A pile of waste coal sits abandoned in Fredericktown. Photo: Reid Frazier

A pile of waste coal sits abandoned in Fredericktown. Photo: Reid Frazier

Pennsylvania is one of six states slated to receive federal grant funds for revitalizing abandoned mine land.

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced Wednesday that it will give $26.6 million to economic development projects in coal communities across the commonwealth.

It’s part of the government’s Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) grant program, which will give more than $122.5 million to communities nationwide.

Approved grant projects will rehabilitate abandoned, hazardous mining sites into centers for recreation, solar farming and other business opportunities.

Pennsylvania has received between $25 and $30 million annually to clean up abandoned mines since the federal grant program began in 2016.

“AMLER grants are community-driven projects that rehabilitate degraded and hazardous sites, while creating new economic opportunities and good-paying jobs for coal communities,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Laura Daniel-Davis in a press release. ”We have already seen the impact of this program – with projects that are creating the foundation for economic opportunity for years to come.”

In January, Gov. Tom Wolf announced 13 former coal mine sites that would receive funding through the grant program’s most recent allocation. That included two projects in Washington County that would demolish and bury former mine construction, clean waterways and neutralize soil acidity to encourage new vegetation.

One of the sites would be turned into green space and a walking path, while the other would be redeveloped into a privately-owned storage facility.

Other projects in recent years also include repairs at the former Avenue Mine, renamed the recreational Tour-Ed Mine, in Tarentum, and acid mine drainage and replanting initiatives at the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, built on former mining land.

Kentucky, West Virginia, Alabama, Ohio and Virginia, as well as the Crow Tribe, the Hopi Tribe and the Navajo Nation, will also receive money in the latest round of revitalization grant funds.

The states and territories selected have the highest number of unfunded coal-related problems and abandoned mine lands in the country.

The grant funds supplement the $725 million allocated for the reclamation of abandoned coal mines nationwide in President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package, passed earlier this year.

The White House plans to spend $11.3 billion in the U.S. abandoned mine lands program over 15 years.

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