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U.S. Interior Secretary comes to Kentucky to announce abandoned mines cleanup funding

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Stu Johnson
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U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland-making funding announcement in Lexington

Kentucky is receiving an initial installment of more than $74 million toward further cleanup of abandoned mine land sites and orphaned oil and gas wells. The formal announcement came during a visit from the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

Kentucky is the first state to get this funding as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law. The federal money can be used to close dangerous mine shafts, reclaim unstable slopes, improve water quality, and restore water supplies. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland says more work remains.

“The reality is that legacy pollution continues to pollute too many of our waterways and neighborhoods and we cannot look away any longer. Right here in Kentucky is where we can make a major difference,” said Haaland.

Kentucky Energy and Environment Secretary Rebecca Goodman says there are projects ready to go awaiting funding now. Kentucky will be eligible for additional funding over a 15-year period. Rebecca Shelton with the Appalachian Citizens Law Center says the work will help make communities safer.

“If you aren’t familiar with abandoned mine lands, they’re in backyards. The flooding in eastern Kentucky destabilized mine lands all across that region and caused landslides and subsidence, mine blowouts. I mean that are just so prevalent,” said Shelton.

The federally supported program is expected to be a significant employer. Labor officials say operators are willing to recruit people in the areas effected by abandoned mines.

Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 30 years.
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