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Division of Abandoned Mine Lands
AML Branches

The Program Development Branch evaluates and prioritizes potential reclamation sites for the Division of Abandoned Mine Lands (AML). The branch examines a site’s characteristics and its mining history to determine if it is eligible to be reclaimed by the AML program. Reclamation is the process of restoring a site to a safe and environmentally stable condition. A site’s eligibility is based in part on whether mining occurred at the site before 1982. If so, the site may be eligible for AML reclamation. AML employees look for public health and safety problems at the site, including water quality problems, landslides and open mine portals.

The severity of these problems helps determine the priority given to reclaiming the site. Once a site is found to be eligible for AML reclamation, the Program Development Branch prepares the paperwork needed to get approval from the federal Office of Surface Mining (OSM) to proceed with the work. The branch also does eligibility checks on sites reclaimed under the federal OSM’s Emergency Program.

The Design Branch provides engineering services and develops plans for the division’s reclamation projects. The Design Branch is responsible for determining the best way to restore sites being reclaimed by the AML. This involves surveying the site to define the problem areas, designing retaining walls or other retention techniques to stabilize landslides, prescribing ways to eliminate the effects of erosion offsite and planning for revegetation.

The branch develops a set of construction drawings and technical specifications for each project, along with a cost estimate. The Finance and Administration Cabinet selects a contractor for each project through competitive bidding. Once a contract is awarded for a project, the division’s Construction Branch monitors the reclamation.

To view a list of projects out for bid:
Go to the Finance and Administration Cabinet Web page
Click on the eProcurement link.
Click on the eMARS Vendor Self Service link. To browse bid opportunities and view contract information you will need to become a registered vendor.

NOTE: View the Technical Specifications documents that the AML will begin to utilize as part of its contract documents. If you have comments or suggestions concerning these specifications, e-mail those comments to KY AML

The Construction Branch oversees the day-to-day construction activity on all AML reclamation projects in the state. Inspectors from the branch’s regional offices visit reclamation sites to make sure that work is proceeding according to the plan prepared by the Design Branch. These same inspectors are also the first AML employees to investigate newly reported AML problems. Regional offices are located in Madisonville, London and Prestonsburg. The Frankfort central office provides oversight and payment processing for the projects.

The Water Supply Program run by the AML extends waterlines into areas where drinking water has been contaminated by past coal mining. The projects begin with an application for assistance from a local government. The AML gives the local government funding to study the groundwater quality. The research will help determine if any existing water quality problems are the result of past mining. If past mining caused the problems, the area is eligible for assistance from the AML. In most cases, groundwater problems have several causes. In these cases, governments usually develop a water supply project using several funding sources; AML pays a portion of the cost based on the mining impacts found in the study.

The Project Management Branch administers the Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) program as well as the oversight of consultant designed projects. It consists of the AMD Section and the Reclamation Section. The branch augments the Construction and Design branches of AML with in-house design and technical oversight of consultant design and consultant construction projects.

The Emergency Branch administers the former federal emergency reclamation program for the Commonwealth. Once an AML problem is declared a potential life threatening situation and mine relatedness /eligibility has been established, this branch designs and oversees the reclamation of these sites. Procurement of contracting services for these State Declared Emergency projects is administered through the Program Services Branch.

Overview of SMCRA Amendments 2006
Comprehensive legislation reauthorizing the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) program under Title IV of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) was passed by the congress on Dec. 9, 2006, and was signed by the president on Dec. 20, 2006.  This bill represents the culmination of years of work by the states, federal government and others to address the future of the AML program. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act Amendments of 2006 were contained in the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-342).  The new legislation extends federal AML fee collection authority to 2021 at reduced rates and addresses a host of other provisions to the AML program. Once implemented, the new changes in federal law will result in substantial increases in AML funding to states and tribes and focus AML reclamation on projects that benefit public health and safety.
Other notable changes made by the 2006 amendments include:

  •     AML fee collection extended for 15 years.
  •     AML fees reduced by 20 percent over the duration of the extension.
  •     Unappropriated State Share balances paid out to states and tribes over a seven-year period.
  •     AML allocation formula modified to direct more funds to areas with most historic coal-related problems.
  •     AML funds distributed annually outside congressional appropriation process.
  •     Acid Mine Drainage Abatement Set-Aside allotment increased from 10 percent to 30 percent of grant.
  •     Thirty percent cap on waterline allotment lifted.  States no longer limited by cap on waterline funding.
  •     Lien provisions streamlined.
  •     Redefines priorities for AML funding.
  •     Increases and stabilizes funding for the UMWA Combined Benefit Funds.

These changes will result in dramatic and far-reaching effects to the AML program.  The states, tribes and federal Office of Surface Mining are working cooperatively to ensure a smooth implementation of the 2006 amendments in a way that benefits the citizens of the nation’s coalfields.