The Director’s Office is responsible for all facets of the Kentucky AML Program and oversees all Branches within the Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mine Lands (DAML). Programmatic and Division goals, objectives, policies, and procedures are implemented at the Director’s Office level. The Director’s Office directly administers the DAML Water Supply Program and the AML Economic and Community Development (AML Pilot) Program. The Waterline Program extends waterlines into areas where drinking water has been contaminated by past coal mining. If DAML determines that AML-eligible coal mining caused water quality or quantity problems, the area is eligible for assistance from the DAML. In most cases, there are several causes of groundwater quality and quantity problems. In these cases, local governments/water districts usually develop a water supply project using several funding sources; based on available funding, DAML can pay a portion of the cost contingent upon the amount of groundwater impacts caused by AML-eligible coal mining. The AML Pilot Program provides grants to governmental and quasi-governmental entities to explore and implement strategies to return AML-impacted areas to productive use and to achieve economic development and job creation in communities impacted by the decline in coal mining. AML Pilot Grants are funded with general Federal Treasury funds and have been awarded in 2016, 2017, and 2018. The provision of future AML Pilot Grants will be determined by Congress.
Project Eligibility Branch
The Project Eligibility Branch evaluates and prioritizes potential reclamation sites for DAML. The Project Eligibility 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 May 18, 1982. If so, the site may be eligible for AML reclamation. DAML employees look for public health and safety problems, and their causes, at the site. Typical problems include drainage problems, landslides and open mine portals. The severity of AML problems helps determine the priority given to reclaiming a site. Once a site is found to be eligible for DAML reclamation, the Project Eligibility Branch prepares documents needed to obtain required approval from the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) to proceed with the work.
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 reclaim AML problems. 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, 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 Branches monitor the reclamation.
To view a list of projects out for bid:
Go to the Finance and Administration Cabinet Website
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 AML will utilize as part of its contract documents. If you have comments or suggestions concerning these specifications, e-mail those comments to KY AML
Construction Branches I and II
The Construction Branches oversee the day-to-day construction activity on all AML, Acid Mine Drainage (AMD), and Bond Forfeiture reclamation projects in the state. Inspectors from the Branches’ regional offices visit reclamation sites to make sure that work is proceeding according to the plan prepared by the Design Branch. The Construction Branch also assists with, and implements, basic design plans for the initial remediation activity associated with High Priority/Emergency problems. Furthermore, Construction Branch personnel are typically the first DAML employees to respond to and investigate newly-reported AML problems. Regional offices are usually the first point of contact for coalfield citizens and DAML regional offices are located in Madisonville, London, Hazard, and Prestonsburg.
Technical Support Branch
The Technical Support Branch administers the Bond Forfeiture Program which consists of reclaiming coal mine sites with available bond forfeiture funds. The Technical Support Branch also provides payment processing and some oversight of normal AML reclamation projects and serves as the lead for developing and administering maintenance/repair projects on previously-reclaimed sites. In addition, the Division’s Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and unmanned aerial vehicle - UAV (aerial photo/video drone) activities, which assist with AML-eligibility determinations and reclamation efforts, are operated within this Branch. Lastly, this Branch contains a component that handles procurement, contracting, personnel, and administrative functions for the Division.
AML Fee Re-Authorization Approved for 15 Years
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.