Acid Mine Drainage

Acid mine drainage colors streams, creeks and rivers rust orange with dangerous pollution from mining operations. These polluted bodies of water are an eyesore, but more importantly, they pose an ongoing threat to the health of people and wildlife, and undermine development efforts. The Abandoned Mine Lands fund has helped clean up many sites impacted by AMD across the country, but an untold number still exist and clean-up projects already in operation must be operated indefinitely. In 2021, advocates for mine reclamation spoke with experts on AMD about the challenges posed by this persistent form of pollution and what’s needed to fix the problem.

Several of these interviews discuss the STREAM Act, a bill to guarantee that the major new investments in abandoned mine land clean up in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law could be directed to address acid mine drainage that threatens waterways across the country. The bipartisan STREAM Act passed in December 2022.

Blog Series

Confronting acid mine drainage: A conversation with Marissa Lautzenheiser

Marissa Lautzenheiser leads acid mine drainage clean-up efforts for Rural Action in Appalachian Ohio. In this conversation, Lautzenheiser lays out the basics of the AMD challenge, discusses the unique funding needs for AMD clean-up, and talks about some of the innovative work Rural Action is doing to tackle this problem.

Read the full conversation

How acid mine drainage fits into pending mine cleanup legislation: A conversation with Joe Pizarchik

Joe Pizarchik, former head of OSMRE and one of the nation’s foremost experts on complex and sprawling abandoned mine lands issues, provides an essential overview of how acid mine drainage fits into pending legislative proposals and where we should look next.

Read the full conversation

Restoring waters damaged by acid mine drainage: A conversation with Amanda Pitzer

Amanda Pitzer with Friends of the Cheat discusses the specific impacts of acid mine drainage on the Cheat River and how the organization is meeting these challenges. She also analyzes abandoned mine lands funding pending before Congress and charts a path for future success in collaboration with state and federal decision-makers.

Read the full conversation

Building community awareness to solve acid mine drainage: A conversation with DJ Coker

DJ Coker of Duff, Tennessee found acid mine drainage at a nearby pond that used to be part of a coal mining operation. Now, he’s made it his mission to get the site cleaned up and demand accountability from those responsible. Watch DJ’s story.

Read the full conversation

The Abandoned Mine Lands program

This short video from July 2021 tells the story of the abandoned mine lands plaguing communities across the country, and why Congress must act to create jobs cleaning up these sites. Reclaiming these decades-old abandoned mine sites is an investment that will protect communities, clean up damaged land and water and create 13,000 jobs each year.

Learn about our work to clean up abandoned mine lands

Photo of orange acid mine drainage from a Kentucky surface mine by Matt Wasson

Contact Congress

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding will allow states and tribes with abandoned mines to revitalize streams and rivers that have been devastated by coal pollution, but we need to make sure states have the freedom to spend this money on long-term treatment of acid mine drainage.

Tell Congress to let states use their infrastructure funding for acid mine drainage treatment!

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