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Finding Assistance

Technical Assistance

Financial Assistance


Financial Assistance:

  1. Financing your project
  2. Funding sources
  3. Maintaining your effort

Funding Sources

Funding from local and external sources and in-kind support from your regional partnership partners will be essential elements in achieving the overall goals established for your watershed.

In addition to support from your partnership members and other local and regional entities, funds for AMD remediation are available from private foundations and several governmental agencies. Each of these sources of support has its own criteria for applying for funds, and each has unique project management and reporting requirements. Due to the importance of financial support to the overall success of your effort, it is usually necessary to establish a special fund-raising committee early in the process. As potential funding sources are identified, they need to be updated regularly on how your field work and watershed analysis are progressing. This effort requires a personal touch. People on the fund-raising committee should be appointed to work with each potential funding source as the project unfolds. This approach generates interest among potential financial supporters and cultivates the relationships that are essential in acquiring the resources that will be needed during the treatment system's design and installation phase.

Where to Look for Funding

Potential sources of funding can be found in all sectors. As always, begin by looking locally. A brainstorming session among partnership members is a good way to jog people's memories regarding their networks. A contact inside an organization can often link you quickly with the appropriate person. The more prospects you can identify, the better the chances of finding the financing necessary to move your project forward. Funding can be obtained primarily from two major sources:

Private Sector Funding

While researching possible funding sources, do not forget about the local business and industrial community, not-for-profit organiza­tions, and foundations. Many contractors who depend upon public work projects like roads and bridges are very interested in supporting efforts that benefit the economy of the region, as are business people and representatives of area industries.

Foundations:     Foundations must give away at least five percent of their assets each year to retain their foundation status. Typically, foundations have a board of directors that review proposals for funding. There are national directories that describe the eligibility requirements, funding cycles, and contact names for more information on foundations.

Not-for-profit Organizations: Try teaming up with various environmental organizations, professional societies, universities, and associations to obtain financial or in-kind support for your AMD clean-up project. If they cannot provide direct funding, they may be able to provide technical assistance, or other in-kind services.

Corporations: Many corporations have community relations offices that support local projects. You may have already enlisted support from the community when forming your partnership. Check out your local businesses and banks to see if they provide any funding support. Remember that in-kind services can be just as valuable for your project.

Mining Industry: Sometimes mining companies and local or regional contractors will offer to provide in-kind services like heavy equipment work to construct treatment system components, and some mining firms might be interested in remining some problem areas, if the approach is feasible.

Pubic Agency Funding

Federal, state, and local agency funding for AMD clean-up projects comes from a variety of sources. These sources include federal agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Surface Mining, the National Resource Conservation Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as well as from individual state program offices. In Pennsylvania, the Growing Greener Program has established a significant funding mechanism for environmental issues, including abandoned mine reclamation.  Keep in mind that your AMD project may be eligible for funding from program areas such as watershed restoration, sediment and erosion control, non-point source pollution control, or source watershed protection.

PA's Growing Greener Program , a grant program, was initially established through a legislate act in 1999 to fund a variety of environmental programs, with $650 million earmarked over a 5 year period.  Abandoned mine reclamation issues are among the specific targets of this program, with funding channeled through several departments.  The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) handles the vast majority of projects dealing with AMD, although other departments, such as the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) also provide funding is specialized situations.  The Growing Greener program also acts as an umbrella for funding requests from other funding sources.  Section 319 Non-Point Source monies originating from the US EPA are an example.  In 2002, a continuation of the popular program was enacted, providing a significant funding stream through 2012 by placing a $4/ton fee on solid waste disposal.

The Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Program: The AML program was established by Title IV of SMCRA. Under this program, coal operators now pay a 35-cent fee for each ton of surface-mined coal removed, and 15 cents for each ton of deep-mined coal. These funds go to the Abandoned Mine Reclama­tion Fund (AMRF), which is administered by the OSM. However, the amount actually provided to projects each year depends on the allocation approved by Congress. While some of the funds are targeted at emergency AML problems like mine fires, landslides threatening homes, and dangerous subsidence conditions, most AMRF monies are potentially available for contaminated AMD clean-up. States may set aside 10 percent of their allocated AML funds in interest-bearing accounts to address AMD problems.

Public Agency Funding Examples


How much is enough?

While it seems that adequate funding might be available to address AMD problems, such is not the case. Pennsylvania, which has received an annual allocation of about $20 million in AML funds recently, has an estimated $15 billion in abandoned mine AMD problems. That state alone has about 2,400 miles of AMD-contaminated streams, 250,000 acres of unreclaimed surface mine land, and potential subsidence problems on hundreds of thousands of acres.

The Appalachian Clean Streams Initiative: A primary focus of the ACSI is to improve the efficiency of public fund use in cleaning up AMD by helping to coordinate information exchange and eliminat­ing duplication of effort among federal, state, and local agencies and private groups. Congress appropriated $4 million for 13 ACSI projects in FY 1997, including $975,000 for projects in West Virginia, $325,000 for the Quemahoning Creek cleanup in Pennsylvania, $100,000 for Cherry Creek in Maryland, $650,000 for projects in Ohio, and $325,000 for the Little Toby Creek project in Pennsylvania. Watershed groups seeking to address AMD problems should contact their state ACSI representative for technical assistance and possible funding. See Appendix G for more information on funding opportu­nities under ACSI.

EPA Coal Mine Drainage Initiative: EPA's Region 3 office has several programs which can provide funds for restoration of abandoned coal mine drainage impacted watersheds. These include the Non-point Source Program under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, Regional Geographic Initiatives Program, Environmental Educa­tion, and Environmental Justice. A more detailed explanation and point of contact for these and other EPA funding programs is listed in

EPA also has on its homepage the Guidebook of Financial Tools which provides an overview of the various ways/means to fund sustainable environmental systems. The web site address is: