Skip to main content

Energy Transitions Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation in Illinois ( 2021)


Illinois Extension, Just Transition Fund, and Prairie Rivers Network discuss the history and importance of Illinois’ Abandoned Mine Land (AML) program and potential new federal funding that could bring could bring $1.2 billion to Illinois over 15 years. Presenters share tools, resources, and ideas for current funding and retraining programs that communities can use to safely repurpose closed mining areas.


  • Rita Lee, AML Supervisor, Office of Mines and Minerals, Illinois Department of Natural Resources
    • Rita Lee is the Manager of the IL DNR Abandoned Mined Land Reclamation Division. The division reclaims mined land to protect people and the environment. Rita has worked with the State Of Illinois starting as Water Resources Engineer progressing to Water Resources Planning Section Chief. Rita has an Illinois Professional Engineering license and she is a Certified Floodplain Manager.
  • Eric Dixon, Senior Researcher, Ohio River Valley Institute
    • Eric focuses on economic and environmental policy in Appalachia and beyond. Prior to joining ORVI, Eric was an organizer and policy advocate at Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, where he worked on issues such as black lung and damage from abandoned coal mines.
  • Dana Kuhnline, RECLAIM Coordinator, Appalachian Voices
  • Karen Peterson, Climate Change Project Manager, The Nature Conservancy
    • Karen coordinates work on bipartisan climate policy, low-impact renewable energy siting, and nature-based climate mitigation and adaptation. Prior to joining TNC, Karen worked at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on global climate policy and tropical forest conservation. Karen has a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of the Environment and served as a Peace Corps volunteer for three years in Latin America.


  • Office of Mines and Minerals, Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Abandoned Mine Land Program
  • IDNR Illinois Mine Permits Map
  • ISGS ILMINES website/map
  • Repairing the Damage: Cleaning up the land, air, and water damaged by the coal industry before 1977, by Eric Dixon
  • Abandoned underground mines and quarries can be utilized for a geothermal resource for heating and cooling buildings, or for energy storage from solar and wind energy systems. The Illinois Geothermal Coalition at the University of Illinois can provide more information about these systems. Contact me at
  • Eric Dixon’s (ORVI) analysis of the current language related to AML in the bipartisan infrastructure package:
  • Video from Dan Fisher on business developments on Abandoned Mine Land sites around Gillespie Youtube Video
  • If you are curious about acid mine drainage (this is that red water you see sometimes) we have started a new video and blog series shining a light on this particular abandoned mine land issue -


For more webinars, see Illinois Extension's Local Government Education website: