Va. Energy seeks applications for mine reclamation projects
Federal cash will help in push to remediate former coal mines
Companies with three or more years of mining and reclamation experience may apply for a chance to bid on the state’s Abandoned Mine Land projects, the Virginia Department of Energy announced this week.
Projects involve removing safety hazards and environmental issues resulting from coal mining before 1977.
Applicants will be able to bid on projects without holding a Class A contractor’s license because of an exemption from the Virginia Coal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.
Virginia has several thousand AML projects, but the state has only been able to complete those labeled Priority I that pose the greatest danger, because of a lack of funds, according to a news release. Money from the $1.2 trillion federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation passed in November 2021 will allow work on lower-priority projects. Virginia is expected to receive nearly $23 million for AML cleanup for the next 15 years.
“Virginia Energy is slated to receive a significant increase in funding for AML this year. Because of that, we hope to complete a record amount of projects and we need boots on the ground to meet those goals,” Virginia Energy Director of Coal Programs Randy Moore said in a statement. “There is also a focus to use the federal funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation to put coal miners back to work, and by adding coal companies to our list of contractors, we hope to see that specially trained workforce back on a payroll.”
Southwest Virginia, as well as five other states, has benefited from the federal Abandoned Mine Land Pilot Program, which has offered multiple rounds of funding to Virginia Energy, formerly known as the state Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. Since 2017, the state has received $10 million a year for projects that promote renewable energy, agriculture and revitalizing mine-dependent communities.
While contractors have completed past reclamation work in various coalfields across the state, “the list of projects is growing and so the list of those able to do the work needs to grow, as well,” AML Projects Coordinator Lesa Baker said. “There will be plenty of work to go around and the results will be quite the positive environmental impact.”
Interested coal companies must be in good standing in the Applicant Violator System (AVS), have conducted business for three years in the state and completed reclamation projects. Approved applicants are also required to register in Virginia’s procurement system, eVA. More information and the application are available here.
Virginia Energy’s Abandoned Mine Land program was established after the passage of the federal Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act in 1977. The agency manages a federal grant to reclaim issues caused by coal mining that occurred before that date. Federal funding comes from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement.