The AML fund has an outstanding balance of more than $1.5 billion, but only a fraction of that is used each year to clean up environmental and safety problems at AML sites. Instead, the money is used to help the federal budget appear balanced on paper.
Of the $3.9 billion in high-priority AML projects, about $2.5 billion, or 65 percent, have not been cleaned up, according to an OSM report.
"New problems are constantly added to the inventory, as conditions worsen at old mine sites and as developing expands into old mining area," the OSM report said. "And this represents only a small part of the total problem, as no systematic effort has been made to inventory these problems."
AML problems are concentrated in Applachian coal states, such as West Virginia and Kentucky. West Virginia has about $562 million in AML projects that need to be addressed, according to OSM.
Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., has consistently fought to have more of the AML fund spent on cleanup projects.
"I applaud the administration for requesting a funding increase for this program," Rahall said.