New guidance from the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) will help determine how states spend $11.3 billion of funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) to clean up abandoned mine lands. This investment from the BIL will help communities reclaim lands impacted by dangerous environmental hazards and pollution due to past coal mining and create good-paying jobs and revitalize local communities. The guidance requires states and tribes to incorporate public engagement to help determine which abandoned mine land sites to prioritize for clean-up, recommends the use of project labor agreements or unionized project workforce for high-dollar projects, and encourages states and tribes to prioritize larger projects and those that can be aggregated into large contracts.
In response to the release of the guidance, the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Jason Walsh:
“Investing in the reclamation of abandoned mine lands is a no brainer. It will provide a cleaner environment for local communities and create good jobs in the process. Additionally, reclaiming land that in its current state is no more than a blight can help communities diversify their local economies by opening up space for the development of new industries. The included labor provisions will help ensure the jobs created are the kind of good-paying union jobs that impacted areas need.”