(WFXR) — The Virginia Department of Energy (Virginia Energy) will be getting a significant increase in funding, according to an announcement made by Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, July 6, Youngkin announced that $22,790,000 in federal funding was awarded to Virginia Energy to reclaim abandoned mine land across Virginia.
According to a press release from the governor’s office, this extra funding will significantly increase projects and job opportunities that are made possible through the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) program.
“We are excited to get to work and assist in getting others back to work with this announcement of federal funds,” said Youngkin. “Creating jobs in coal-impacted communities is a priority, and through the reclamation and repurposing of these mined lands, we hope to see an additional economic activity for properties that can become suitable for development.”
Previous funding limited the number of jobs that could be completed annually. The new award of $22.7 million will allow numerous projects to be completed that have been waiting for a long time. Officials say that Virginia Energy called coal companies to bid on various AML to cover the increase in projects needing completion.
“Southwest Virginia has a ready workforce to complete the numerous infrastructure projects in Virginia,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “Our agency prides itself on economic development in this region and we will aid in continued job increases over the next 15 years with this specific funding.”
The governor’s office says Virginia Energy has created 792 jobs through the traditional AML program since 2017. The AML program typically receives $4 million in funding annually, adding an average of 100 jobs every five years. The new funding is projected to create more than 1,000 jobs.
In addition to more jobs, the new funding will reportedly allow Virginia Energy to reclaim the land where historic mining caused environmental harm and danger.
“There are thousands of features posing safety and environmental harm due to historic mining in southwest Virginia and other areas of the state where coal was once extracted,” said Virginia Energy Director John Warren. “These funds will allow us to reclaim and repurpose just over 80% of the current inventory Virginia Energy has gathered since our AML program began in 1981.”
Any coal companies or contractors interested in bidding on AML projects can learn more by visiting the Virginia Energy website.