Surface Mining:

Management of the Abandoned Mine Land Fund

RCED-91-192: Published: Jul 25, 1991. Publicly Released: Aug 27, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined: (1) the amount of Abandoned Mine Land (AML) funds the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) and the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) expended for administrative costs for fiscal years (FY) 1985 through 1990; and (2) whether OSMRE and SCS funded reclamation projects in accordance with the priorities set forth in the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA).

GAO found that: (1) for FY 1985 through 1990, OSMRE and SCS expended 28 percent of $1.3 billion in AML funds on administrative activities; (2) since some states include such project-related costs as project design and monitoring in their administrative grants, and other states include small amounts of administrative expenses in their construction grants, a precise figure on the amount of AML funds actually spent on administrative expenses is not readily discernible; (3) SCS estimated that it spent $6.6 million to administer the Rural Abandoned Mine Land Program (RAMP) between FY 1985 and 1990 and RAMP projects funded in this time generally fell under the two highest priority categories of the six set forth in SMCRA; (4) OSMRE spent about $137.3 million administering the overall AML program between FY 1985 and 1990; (5) states generally funded reclamation projects in accordance with SMCRA priorities and each participating state has its own OSMRE-approved ranking system to help guide project selection; and (6) OSMRE annual oversight reports found few major project selection problems during FY 1985 through 1990.