Press Release

PRESS ADVISORY: Advocates to release policy platform to stop zombie mines

As GAO prepares investigation of zombie mine crisis, platform offers policymakers solutions

February 9, 2024

Trey Pollard – – 202-904-9187

COAL COUNTRY — On Feb. 15, advocates from across coal-mining communities will unveil a new federal policy platform that serves as a road map to address and prevent unreclaimed “zombie mines” — idled modern-era mines that have not been cleaned up by the responsible coal companies. Endorsed by 48 community and national organizations, the policy platform will offer an array of new recommended solutions to thwart the continued zombie mine crisis.

While the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021 deploys $11 billion to clean up abandoned coal mines from before the 1977 enactment of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, a crisis has developed with mines built post-1977 — or “modern coal mines.” SMCRA was supposed to ensure that no mines built after 1977 would be abandoned without funds available to clean up and reclaim them, but the provisions put into place have not fulfilled that promise. Regulators have set the amount of money for required reclamation bonds too low, and they are not enforcing the requirement that coal companies reclaim land contemporaneously with coal removal.

There are nearly 1 million acres of modern coal mines across the country that have not yet been reclaimed, according to analyses by the Western Organization of Resource Councils and Appalachian Voices. Some of these mines have idled for years without producing coal or making progress on reclamation, they often leave the surrounding area vulnerable to leaks and other environmental hazards. The problem is only anticipated to grow amid the ongoing decline of the coal industry — and the risks are often more serious than with pre-1977 mines as newer abandoned mines are often larger, closer to communities and result in more environmental damage than older mines because of the introduction of mountaintop removal mining in the 1970s and other factors. The crisis is so pressing that the Government Accountability Office recently confirmed it was investigating the scope and breadth of the problem after pressure from advocates and eight members of Congress.

Now, a large coalition of community and national organizations has developed the “Preventing Zombie Mines” platform to provide Congress a clear roadmap to solve this problem so that zombie mines can stop damaging the health, environment and economy of coal communities and start being transformed for alternative uses that can create jobs and benefit local residents and businesses.

When: Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024 – 12 PM ET/11 am CST/10 am MT

  • Shannon Anderson, Community Organizer and Staff Attorney, Powder River Basin Resource Council
  • Erin Savage, Senior Program Manager, Appalachian Voices
  • Rebecca Shelton, Director of Policy, Appalachian Citizens Law Center
  • Jizelle Torres, Climate and Energy Program Assistant, Prairie Rivers Network

How: Register and join via Zoom at this link

# # #


Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube