Montana to receive $4.6 million for abandoned mine cleanups

Money comes through Biden's infrastructure bill 

abandoned mines in montana, federal funding, montana living

Montana will receive roughly $5 million from the federal government to address environmental issues from abandoned mines.

Millions of Americans across the country live within just one mile from an abandoned coal mine or an orphaned oil and gas well. These legacy pollution sites, according to the Department of the Interior, are environmental hazards and jeopardize public health and safety by contaminating groundwater, emitting noxious gases like methane, littering the landscape with rusted and dangerous equipment, creating flooding and sinkhole risks, and harming wildlife.

According to the Department of the Interior, president Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history. 

he law provides a total of $11.3 billion in abandoned mine land (AML) funding over 15 years, which will help communities clean up dangerous environmental conditions and pollution caused by past coal mining. This funding is expected to enable reclamation of the majority of current inventoried abandoned mine lands in this country, including $4.6 million in Montana.

The government said in a news release that financial resources will help communities eliminate dangerous conditions and pollution caused by past extraction activities. Projects to cap orphaned oil and gas wells, close dangerous mine shafts, improve water drainage, and restore water supplies damaged by mining will create good-paying jobs to strengthen local economies.  

The Law invests in supporting and protecting communities by funding:  

  • $11.3 billion to provide grants to states and Tribes for abandoned coal mine land reclamation. $25 million will be used to help states update their abandoned mine land inventories.  
  • $4.7 billion for orphaned well site plugging, remediation and restoration activities. In addition to addressing legacy pollution, resources are available to states to create immediate jobs and build the foundation for a clean energy economy: 
    • $4.3 billion to be used to plug orphan wells on state and private lands.  
    • $250 million to cap orphan wells on public lands, including in national parks, national forests, and wildlife refuges.  
    • $150 million to cap orphan wells on Tribal lands.  

This is the second allotment of funding through the program. Nearly $725 million was allocated in the first year. With this funding, states have started planning, hiring and construction, including on projects that will protect homes and infrastructure from subsidence and landslides, create new recreation opportunities, and clean up streams polluted with acid mine drainage, the Department of Interior said.

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