Jurisdiction: Abandoned Mine Lands
The Public Service Commission administers the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Program on behalf of the State of North Dakota. The State AML Program was approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1981 under authority of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (P.L. 95-87, Title IV). Program funding comes from a federal reclamation fee on coal that has been mined in the United States since the late 1970's. These fees are placed into the AML fund and the money that North Dakota receives from this fund is used to eliminate existing and potential public hazards resulting from abandoned surface and underground coal mines.
The reclamation fee on lignite mined in North Dakota is currently nine cents per ton and it will drop to eight cents a ton in October 2012. As the result of amendments to the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act enacted in late 2006, the federal reclamation fee will be collected through September 30, 2021. North Dakota will be receiving around four million dollars from the fund for the next few years but that will decrease to three million dollars per year starting in 2013 and continuing at that level until the program ends in 2022. However, with the increased funding that the program now receives, the AML Division plans to address most of the problems associated with another 15 miles of dangerous highwalls, over 3,000 acres of lands affected by underground mine subsidence, and other hazardous conditions at abandoned surface and underground coal mines before the program ends in 2022.
The mission of the Abandoned Mine Lands Division is to eliminate potential or existing hazards associated with abandoned coal mines in North Dakota for which there is no continuing liability under state or federal law. The nature of this mission is not regulatory but rather service-oriented.
Related goals are:
- Reclaim abandoned mine land sites found on the North Dakota AML Inventory.
- Reclaim hazardous abandoned mine land sites not on the AML Inventory but discovered through ex-ploratory drilling or public information.
- Reclaim emergency sites as the highest work priority. Develop emergency reaction plans that will reduce the time taken to eliminate the imminent hazard.
Link to the website of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.