AML white paper gives recommendations to make program work better for Central Appalachia’s economic transition

UPDATE, 7-9-15: The full text of the AML white paper can now be downloaded at the link to the press release. Scroll to the bottom for the link to download. 

The AML Policies Priority Group – a multi-stakeholder group examining the abandoned mine lands fund – released a white paper today that assesses the opportunity for the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) program in Central Appalachia.

From a press release about the white paper’s release:

The paper provides recommendations for specific policy changes that would provide distribution of special funds to states based on criteria such as number of remaining abandoned mine lands sites, unemployment rates, and opportunity for economic development, rather than rates of coal production as the current law mandates.

The central aim of the research paper, which includes input from a broad range of stakeholders across the region, is to analyze the AML program and identify potential improvements.

Some of the paper’s key findings include:

  • The AML program supported 1,317 jobs in Central Appalachian states, and delivered a value-added impact of $102 million in these states.
  • It will take at least $9.6 billion to remediate the remaining 6.2 million acres of lands and waters ravaged by abandoned mine problems.
  • AML funding is not distributed according to need. Congress should enact legislation that replaces all AML sub-funds with a single distribution mechanism based on a state’s percentage of the updated federal AML inventory.

AML funds are a big part of President Obama’s POWER+ Plan proposal, and this paper aims to highlight ways in which AML could be effectively used through the POWER+ Plan, but also ways in which the program could be improved.

As we say many times in this blog, there is no one single way to combat the challenges facing Central Appalachia. But, there are lots of different ways in which we can make an impact. Effective and efficient use of AML funds and implementation of reclamation projects could be a significant boon for the region’s economy. The AML white paper should be delved into and given serious thought as it provides serious solutions for how to best utilize the AML program moving forward.