The proposed discretionary budget is a decrease of $7.1 million from the bureau’s FY 2012 enacted level, reflecting cost-cutting measures and tough budget priorities. The new budget provides an increase of $4 million to improve enforcement. Overall, state and tribal regulatory grants are funded at $57.7 million, a reduction of $11 million from 2012.
The FY 2014 budget encourages primacy states to maintain funding levels for their regulatory programs by increasing the fees that each state charges the coal industry for reviewing, administering and inspecting permits. Likewise, where OSM is the regulatory authority for coal mining operations (Tennessee, Washington, and on Indian lands), the budget calls for a reduction in the costs of administration, which will be offset by $2.4 million in fees that OSM proposes to collect from industry for the permitting and inspection services OSM provides.
In FY 2014, OSM will distribute an estimated $468.5 million in mandatory funds under the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) program. These funds are not subject to an annual appropriation. Of this total, the budget proposes $273.5 million for high-priority abandoned coal mine reclamation and provides $195 million for payments to the United Mine Workers of America Health Plans.
With regard to the reclamation fee that mine operators pay on each ton of coal produced, the FY 2014 budget proposes to return rates to the levels in effect before Congress reduced the fee in 2006. The president’s budget will focus the additional funds on the highest priority remaining AML sites. To reduce the deficit, the administration will submit legislation to terminate mandatory payments to the states and tribes that have finished restoring their abandoned coal mines, saving $327 million over 10 years.