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N.D. on track to receive grant for abandoned coal mine cleanup

North Dakota is eligible to receive more than $2.8 million in grant funds as part of a grant package Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced Tuesday for states and tribes to reclaim and repurpose abandoned coal mine lands.

The Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation grants are issued through the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. A total of $291.2 million is available through the Fiscal Year 2019 grant package, the Interior Department said.

"These grants are a great example of Interior partnering with states, tribes and local governments to provide resources for conservation efforts and infrastructure and public safety improvements, like fixing embankments, stabilizing land above underground mines and restoring streams," Bernhardt said in a statement. "The investment we're making back into coal country helps protect people, land, water and property, and enhances the lives of local citizens."

The grants are funded in part by a fee based on coal produced in the U.S. and help to eliminate dangerous conditions and pollution caused by past coal mining. Grant-funded projects have closed dangerous mine shafts, eliminated highwalls, reclaimed unstable slopes, treated acid mine drainage,and restored water supplies damaged by mining, the Interior Department said.

Grants are awarded according to a congressionally mandated formula based on their past and current coal production. Each year, after the distribution is announced, eligible states and tribes apply for annual reclamation grants to access money in their allocations. The surface mining office evaluates and verifies the requests and makes the award amounts available.