The Navajo Nation and the Crow and Hopi tribes, plagued with issues stemming from hazardous abandoned coalmines, are eligible for more than $9 million in federal funding for cleanup this year, the Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement announced on February 24.
It’s their portion of a total $298 million in 2014 Abandoned Mine Land grants being awarded to 28 states and the three tribes “to help eliminate dangerous conditions and pollution caused by past coal mining,” the mining reclamation office said in a media release. “AML-funded projects include closing dangerous mine shafts, reclaiming unstable slopes, improving water quality by treating acid mine drainage, and restoring water supplies damaged by mining.”
The grants fund work similar to what the Navajo Nation has undertaken in its purchase of the Billiton coal mine, which was finalized in December. This mine, still operational, does not fall under the purview of the mining reclamation grants.
Under the latest round of funding from the mining reclamation office the Crow Tribe is eligible for $1.6 million, the Hopi for $1.2 million and the Navajo Nation for $6.2 million. The tribes and other entities have until the end of September, when the current fiscal year closes, to apply for the annual reclamation grants, the mining reclamation office said. Since the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 was enacted, the media release said, upwards of $7.8 billion has been spent to clean up more than 370,000 acres of “high-priority hazardous abandoned mine sites.”