The challenge of reseeding and general surface reclamation in this arid environment can be a major roadblock for energy development in Wyoming. Thousands of acres of surface are scraped bare and otherwise disturbed for drilling locations for oil and natural gas, and Wyoming's coal mining industry strips so much of the surface you can see it from space.
Each year, Wyoming AML staff discovers more of these environmental legacies of the mining industry. As it stands today, the Wyoming AML program’s list of unfunded reclamation projects adds up to $428 million, according to Edwards. That’s the fiscal need not yet met.
Wyoming is set to lose another $1.5 million in Abandoned Mine Land funds, this time due to the impending federal "sequestration" set to begin March 1 — the drastic fiscal-pact struck just a couple of months ago that was supposed to compel partisan politicians in Washington D.C. to finally agree on a budget direction.
Wyoming has been successful in mitigating abandoned coal mine problems, but it continues to receive large amounts of funding from the Abandoned Mine Lands Fund. That money has been spent on a variety of non-mine projects, from infrastructure to research.