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Western Public Lands

Wyoming's AML revenue stream slowing to a trickle: Most AML dollars went to non-mine related facilities

It all started as a way to finance the clean-up of forgotten coal mines, dangerous eyesores that collapsed or leaked acidic sludge into streams. Yet the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund turned into a piece of federal legislation with more lives than a resourceful alley cat.

Originally scheduled to expire in 1992, the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund (or AML) has been reauthorized by Congress seven times; the legislation is scheduled to remain alive until 2021.

But the most adroit – and scrappiest – feline in the AML saga has been the state of Wyoming.

Since 1977, the state of Wyoming has received (or been promised) $1,051,898,067.60 from the AML fund according to Office of Surface Mining, which operates under the auspices of the Department of the Interior.

While disbursements did go towards the original purpose of the fund – Wyoming has reclaimed more than 1,051 coal and non-coal mine sites – hundreds of millions also got funneled into building water systems in Gillette, clean-air research, a hospital addition in Sheridan, maintaining state highways, and the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust.

Read full text: Wyo File

Wednesday, April 18, 2012