FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 13, 2023
Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee released its proposed FY 2024 budget for the Department of Interior and Environmental Protection Agency. The proposal includes a 10% budget cut to the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s operational budget, while also providing a $1 million increase to the budget for the Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization Program.
That increase to the AMLER program comes with a threat of additional cuts to the OSMRE budget if the agency fails to get AMLER funding to the states within 90 days, hurting OSMRE’s ability to provide necessary oversight of the program or assistance to states with implementation.
The proposed cuts to the agency’s funding come at a time when coal companies are shirking their reclamation responsibilities, using bankruptcy and other maneuvers to leave mines sitting idle, leaving communities with polluted waters, landslides and other health and safety hazards resulting from unreclaimed mines. Additionally, the agency is actively administering the historic investment in the abandoned mine land program established by the bipartisan infrastructure law.
Statement by Senior Program Manager Erin Savage:
“As the coal industry declines, we continue to see companies ignore their reclamation responsibilities, and the current regulatory system is not sufficient to ensure clean-up is completed. A fully funded OSMRE is needed to enable inspections and enforcement of ongoing mining and reclamation to ensure communities are protected.”
Statement by Dana Kuhnline, Reclaim Coordinator:
“States, tribes and OSMRE are just getting started implementing the new, expanded abandoned mine land program established under the bipartisan infrastructure law. Such a drastic cut to the agency’s budget will hinder its ability to ensure these funds are spent efficiently and effectively. Congress made this investment in coal-impacted communities on a bipartisan basis — and Congress should follow through to make sure it is implemented well.”
The proposed bill also rescinds investments in clean energy and environmental protection boosted in the Inflation Reduction Act, including the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, Environmental and Climate Justice Grants, and increased funds to the Council on Environmental Quality.
Statement by Director of Government Affairs and Strategy Chelsea Barnes:
“The proposed cuts to the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, the Council on Environmental Quality and key environmental protection programs will have devastating impacts in communities dealing with high levels of pollution. We urge members of Congress to reject this proposal and fully fund these agencies to continue their vital work.”