Senator Jon Tester is criticizing the Obama Administration for holding up mine clean-up efforts that create Montana jobs, and he’s demanding the U.S. Interior Department change its mind.

The President’s proposed budget for 2012 would eliminate current grant funding for abandoned mine clean-up in certified states like Montana. Instead, the Administration proposed a funding structure that would reduce resources for historic “high production” states like Montana.

Tester says the Obama Administration proposals are out of touch with the needs of rural states like Montana, and that the “the disastrous result on the ground will be a missed opportunity to create good-paying jobs for Montanans.” “There are still many critically important clean-up projects ongoing in Montana,”

Tester wrote in a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew. “As a result, approximately 85 percent of funds are used to create good-paying jobs in the local economy.” This budget uncertainty led to the state of Montana halting all new projects, which Tester cited in his letter. “The result is damaging to both the environment and our state's economy,” Tester added. “I urge you to swiftly reverse these policies to put people back to work in Montana.” Tester also said recent widespread flooding in Montana highlighted the need for continued mine cleanup work. “Just this week alone, it was reported that 15 abandoned coal mines have collapsed from the flooding, and there is still an uncertain count of how many hard rock impoundments have breeched,” Tester wrote.

Tester recently introduced legislation to amend the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, to continue support for abandoned mine cleanup projects by restoring limits on the liability of states carrying out such work.

Here is a link to a story of other legislative work that Senator Jon Tester has been up to.