Baucus, Tester announce investment for Montana jobs through mine cleanup

Senators Fought to Secure Montana’s Fair Share of Abandoned Mine Land Cleanup Funding

(Washington, D.C.) – Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today announced a boost for Montana jobs through a grant designed to clean up abandoned mines throughout the state.  Funding for the grant comes from coal companies and will help create Montana jobs at absolutely no cost to taxpayers.  Baucus and Tester fought hard to ensure Montana continues to receive its fair share of this funding in Congress after President Obama proposed eliminating funding for certified states like Montana.

“This is $12 million to create Montana jobs protecting the water we drink and the outdoor heritage we cherish in Big Sky County, at absolutely no cost to taxpayers,” Baucus said.  “Abandoned Mine Land cleanup has a strong record of job creation and quality results.  We will keep fighting to make sure money from Montana coal companies goes to cleanup efforts in Montana, where it rightfully belongs.”

“Cleaning up old mines puts Montanans to work, which is why I fought hard to make sure that the fees paid by Montana coal companies stay in Montana,” Tester said. “This is a win-win investment because the folks working to clean up these old mines are also helping restore clean water so our kids and grandkids can enjoy the same outdoor heritage that we enjoy today.”

The Department of Interior grant will provide $12,163,821 to support cleanup of abandoned mines all over Montana. These abandoned mines create health risks and damage the environment because they contribute to acid mine drainage and leak metals and sediments to surrounding water.

The grant is funded through fees coal producers pay on every ton of coal they produce. Funding through the Abandoned Mine Land cleanup program has led to the cleanup of high-priority abandoned coal mines in Montana. 

In his 2009 and 2010 budgets, President Obama proposed eliminating Abandoned Mine Land funding for “certified” states like Montana that have completed cleanup on high-priority abandoned coal mines.  This would have resulted in fees paid by Montana coal mines going toward cleanup in other states, even though Montana still has numerous hard rock mines that continue to need clean-up actions.  Baucus and Tester fought hard to retain funding for certified states in Congress and see that Montana continues to received its fair share through this grant program.

Baucus and Tester have a long history of championing the Abandoned Mine Land program in Congress and working to ensure money from Montana coal companies goes to clean up Montana mines.