KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee and Kentucky are among 22 states eligible for part of nearly $725 million in funding to clean up abandoned mine lands, according to a release from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The funds are available to both the states as well as the Navajo Nation and will create good-paying jobs, catalyze economic opportunity, and help clean up dangerous environmental conditions and pollution caused by past coal mining. This wave is the second allotment of funding through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that is set to provide a total of $11.3 billion in abandoned mine land funding over 15 years.

In Tennessee, at least 5,050 acres of abandoned mine land has already been reclaimed as a part of the Tennessee Land Reclamation Section that was started in 1981, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s website states. This was done with $14.7 million in state appropriated and matching funds and $35 million in federal grants, according to the department.

Of the nearly $725 million, the release says Tennessee is eligible to receive approximately $8,574,000.

The abandoned mine land reclamation projects help close dangerous mine shafts, reclaim unusable slopes, improve water quality by treating acidic mine damage, and restore water supplies that were damaged by mining in addition to supporting vitally needed jobs, according to the federal release.

The release states that funding can be requested by states and tribes, however, a note about how they are encouraged to apply says to include public review and comment into the selection of the projects to be funded. According to the Department of the Interior, states are eligible for

  • Pennsylvania – $224,786,000
  • West Virginia – $140,684,000
  • Illinois – $75,727,000
  • Kentucky – $74,217,000
  • Ohio – $46,421,000
  • Indiana – $24,654,000
  • Virginia – $ 22,780,000
  • Alabama – $20,441,000
  • Colorado – $ 9,962,000
  • Wyoming – $ 9,693,000
  • Tennessee – $8,574,000
  • Iowa – $5,986,000
  • Missouri – $5,859,000
  • Utah – $5,766,000
  • Kansas – $4,852,000
  • Maryland – $4,809,000
  • Montana – $ 4,599,000
  • Oklahoma* – $3,490,000
  • North Dakota – $3,100,000
  • New Mexico – $2,422,000
  • Arkansas – $1,700,000
  • Navajo Nation – 1,661,000
  • Alaska – $1,333,000
  • Texas – 1,333,000

“The Biden-Harris administration stands shoulder-to-shoulder with states and Tribal Nations in repairing the damage left by legacy coal mining,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Through the President’s Investing in America agenda, we are making the largest investment in abandoned mine reclamation in history, which will create good-paying jobs for current and former coal workers, help revitalize local economies, and advance environmental justice. These smart investments will build a cleaner, healthier and more just future for our children and grandchildren.”

In total, the the figures given in the release, which were rounded to the nearest thousand dollars, add up to $724,849,000.

Tennessee does have an Abandoned Mine Land Program, which is responsible for reclaiming abandoned mining sites that were mined before surface mining laws, have no reclamation bond, or that mine operators have no continuing obligation to, TDEC says. The department’s website says landowners with concerns about abandoned mine lands on their property can contact the program at 865-594-6035.

*The U.S. Department of the interior included a specific note with the funds that Oklahoma was eligible, stating, “Consistent with McGirt v. Oklahoma, 140 S. Ct. 2452 (2020), and related cases, neither the State of Oklahoma nor any of its agencies are currently eligible for BIL AML funding , Oklahoma v. U.S. Department of the Interior, No. CIV-21-719-F, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 204065 (W.D. Okla. Nov. 9, 2022). If one or more entities become eligible for BIL AML grants this fiscal year, OSMRE is reserving BIL funds for AML reclamation on Indian lands in Oklahoma.”