Haaland announces funding for Colorado mine cleanup

By Jennifer Yachnin | 10/31/2023 04:14 PM EDT

The Interior secretary stopped at the former Bluebird/Satanic coal mine as part of a tour by the Biden Cabinet to tout spending on energy and infrastructure.

Three people at a podium in front of snowy mountains.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (right) speaks at an announcement of abandoned mine land funding in Lakewood, Colo. Haaland is joined by Dan Gibbs, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (left), and Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Colo.). Jennifer Yachnin/POLITICO's E&E News

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Tuesday rolled out $10 million in federal funds to boost mine cleanup efforts in Colorado, a portion of the $16 billion in funds Congress designated for legacy pollution cleanup efforts nationwide.

Haaland made the announcement on a hilltop overlooking the site of the shuttered Bluebird/Satanic mine, located in the western Denver suburbs near the Red Rocks Amphitheatre The site sits on the border of the city of Lakewood and small town of Morrison.

“People spend years dealing with serious environmental and health risks caused by these sites,” Haaland said. “But I believe that we have the resources to end this cycle. Together we can make these smart investments and build a cleaner and more just future for our children and our grandchildren.”


Colorado Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Dan Gibbs said the funds represent a significant boost over the state’s typical annual allocation of $2.8 million in federal funds to address former mining sites, including 38 active coal fires.

“These funds will enable us to take action today to make more serious progress and begin to work on extinguishing some of the underground coal fires that we have that really impact communities,” Gibbs said. The abandoned mine lands funds were included in the bipartisan infrastructure law.

According to the Jefferson County Historical Commission, the Bluebird/Satanic mine produced coal between 1872 and the 1930s. It is not listed as an active fire site in a 2018 Colorado DNR inventory report.

Jeff Graves, director of Office of Active and Inactive Mines, said following a survey of the site that any open areas of the mine would be filled in but the surface of the mine area would remain largely unchanged.

The Colorado stop marks Haaland’s second in as many days, following a Monday visit to New Mexico. President Joe Biden and his Cabinet members are taking part in a two-week tour to promote spending on energy and infrastructure.