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Reclamation programs help communities transition abandoned mines

URBANA, Ill. — For more than 140 years, coal mining communities in 72 Illinois counties have helped to power the state. As Illinois pursues energy transitions, coal power plants have downsized and closed, leaving mines abandoned and communities without avenues to replace lost tax revenue and jobs.

Abandoned mines also leave behind piles of coarse and fine coal refuse, air and water quality problems, and the potential for collapsing mines to create surface hazards. Federal and state programs can help impacted communities deal with abandoned mining areas in ways that protect the environment, keep people safe, and turn potential hazards into assets, such as solar arrays or sports complexes.

In a session at 11 a.m. CT on Oct. 21, state environmental partners will discuss the history and importance of Illinois’ Abandoned Mine Land (AML) program and the potential for new federal funding that could bring $1.2 billion to Illinois over 15 years for mine reclamation projects. Presenters will also share tools, resources, and ideas for funding and retraining programs for displaced coal industry workers. University of Illinois Extension hosts this free event in partnership with Illinois Prairie Rivers Network and the Just Transition Fund.

Register online at

If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate, please contact Nancy Ouedraogo at Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time to meet access needs.

Presenters include:

SOURCE: Lisa Merrifield, Community and Economic Development Specialist, University of Illinois Extension

SOURCE: Amanda Pankau, Energy Campaign Coordinator, Illinois Prairie Rivers Network

WRITER: Erin Wunderlich, Writer, University of Illinois Extension

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.