Title IV of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) established the national Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Reclamation Program under the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), U.S. Department of the Interior. The program was developed to reclaim land and water resources adversely affected by past coal mining and left abandoned or inadequately restored. SMCRA levied fees on active coal mining to pay the reclamation costs. Collected fees are deposited in the AML Fund. Once the national program had been established, Congress authorized states and tribes to implement their own programs. The programs are funded through grants from OSMRE, which receives funding from the AML Fund through the regular congressional budget and appropriations process.
As the programs developed, the states/tribes realized it would be beneficial to join together to accomplish common goals and objectives related to the reclamation of abandoned mine lands. Also, cooperation, coordination, and communication between the states/tribes and the federal government needed to be improved. In March 1983 the states/tribes met in St. Louis, Missouri, and organized an informal association.
The states and tribes voted to formalize the Association and by-laws were adopted January 27, 1993. The National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs was registered as a nonprofit corporation on January 4, 1995, in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
The mission of the Association is as follows:
To provide a forum to address current issues, discuss common problems, and share new technologies regarding the reclamation of abandoned mine lands.
To foster positive and productive relationships between the states and tribes represented by the Association and the federal government.
To serve as an effective, unified voice when presenting states/tribes common viewpoints.
To coordinate, cooperate, and communicate with the Interstate Mining Compact Commission, Western Interstate Energy Board, and all other organizations dedicated to the wise use and restoration of our natural resources.
Membership is open to any state or tribe; individual memberships are not offered. Voting is limited to one vote per member. Members that do not have OSMRE-funded reclamation activities within their geographic boundaries will be required to abstain from voting on OSMRE grant or SMCRA-related issues. The voting membership is comprised of 23 states and 3 tribes.
The officers of the Association are the president, vice president, and secretary/treasurer. The officers are elected by the members for a one-year term and are limited to two consecutive terms in the same office.
Each year a conference, with a business session and technical/administrative sessions, is held, generally in the early fall. It is hosted by a member state/tribe on a rotating basis. A two-day business meeting usually is held during the winter and is also hosted by a member state/tribe.
The goals and objectives of the Association are as follows:
To maintain adequate, stable, and predictable funding for state/tribal reclamation programs.
To monitor OSMRE administration of state and federal reclamation programs.
To act as a clearinghouse on congressional and other federal actions affecting state/tribal programs to maximize the educational awareness and knowledge base of each member.
To take an active leadership role in the development of program and new regulations that benefit the membership.
To participate in and monitor Research and Development programs to assure funding of projects with the greatest value to state/tribal programs.