Nearly half of Wyoming is federal land, and the government collects billions of dollars in taxes and royalties every year from industries using that land. But it isn’t always clear where that money goes, and who benefits from it. Now, an international initiative is trying to change that.
An international conference about mining reclamation ended in Laramie today. The American Society of Mining and Reclamation and the Wyoming Reclamation and Restoration Center hosted the event, which featured technical presentations about reclamation issues as well as policy questions and case studies.
UW professor and director of the Wyoming Reclamation and Restoration Center, Pete Stahl, says there were many Australian and Chinese stakeholders in attendance.
The Interstate Mining Compact Commission is recognizing two Wyoming mines for their reclamation efforts. The IMCC represents environmental protection interests and awards one non-coal and one coal project each year. The M-I SWACO Bentonite Mine in Big Horn County won the non-coal award and the Bridger Coal Mine received honorable mention in the coal category.
Department of Environmental Quality spokesman, Keith Guille, says the IMCC only gives two awards each year and it’s significant that Wyoming was recognized for both.
Wyoming leaders are shell-shocked after learning that Congress has arranged to take hundreds of millions of dollars money from the Abandoned Mine Lands program to fund a federal transportation bill.
Wyoming coal producers have paid $2.9 billion into the program, and the state was guaranteed $1.9 billion back for reclamation efforts. The cut would reduce Wyoming’s share by about 700 million dollars over the next decade. That money is used for a variety of projects.