SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — The U.S. Department of Interior announced Thursday they are prepared to invest nearly $76 million in Illinois to restore land polluted by abandoned coal mines.
As a part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Illinois is one of 22 states and tribes eligible for parts of $725 million this fiscal year to clean up polluted lands affected by coal mines. The federal government will offer $11.3 billion in funding over 15 years to clean up across the country.
This is the second annual funding for the initiative. In the first year, states started planning and constructing projects to clean up streams and other water sources.
Leaders say the investments will bring a better future for the country.
“The Biden-Harris administration stands shoulder-to-shoulder with states and Tribal Nations in repairing the damage left by legacy coal mining,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said. “Through the President’s Investing in America agenda, we are making the largest investment in abandoned mine reclamation in history, which will create good-paying jobs for current and former coal workers, help revitalize local economies, and advance environmental justice.”
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources estimates in 1935 there were 1350 active coal mines, but only 20 are active today. Illinois has reclaimed around 9,400 acres of land affected by coal mines according to IDNR’s website.
Officials are guiding states and tribes to prioritize reduce methane emissions as much as possible, invest in underserved communities, and prioritize employing current and former mine workers.
Application for the abandoned mine land funding can be submitted on the federal government’s GrantSolutions website.