Infrastructure law brings funding for coal mine cleanup to Navajo Nation

Published: Thursday, February 10, 2022 - 2:05pm
Updated: Wednesday, January 25, 2023 - 3:32pm
Coverage of tribal natural resources is supported in part by Catena Foundation

The Biden administration’s infrastructure law is bringing new funding to the Navajo Nation. The money will go toward cleanup of coal mining sites.

Large coal mines on Navajo land have been major drivers of the tribe's economy for decades. But several mines have closed in recent years, costing jobs and leaving behind environmental hazards. Navajo environmental activists for years have said not enough is being done to restore disturbed lands to pre-mining condition. 

The federal infrastructure law funds mine reclamation projects in 22 states, but the Navajo Nation is the only tribe set to receive direct funding.

"The fact that the Navajo Nation will receive funding along with other states sets precedence and demonstrates that we are viewed by the Biden-Harris Administration as a sovereign entity," Navajo president Jonathan Nez said in a press release. "President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help revitalize our local economies and families, and most importantly, address environmental impacts."

The tribe will get $1.6 million this fiscal year with potential for millions more through 2036.

Nez’s office said the tribe hopes to employ displaced coal workers for mine cleanup and water quality improvement projects.

→ Years After Coal Mines Close On Navajo And Hopi Land, Some Are Concerned About Cleanup