SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah is eligible to receive $4.2 million from the Department of Interior to close abandoned coal mines.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Wednesday that more than $395 million in grants is being made available to eligible coal-producing states and Native American tribes.
Utah is among 25 states in the country that can use the funding to eliminate safety hazards and generate jobs by closing old mines. State officials estimate there are 17,000 abandoned mines in Utah.
The grants are funded in part by a per-ton reclamation fee levied on all coal produced in the United States. Since Congress passed the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act in 1977, more than $7 billion has been provided to states and the tribes to reclaim more than 285,000 acres of hazardous, high-priority abandoned mine sites.
Under the program, Wyoming qualifies for the most money — a little more than $133 million — according to Salazar's office.