What is Oversight?
The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) is the primary regulator of coal mining under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) until a state or Indian tribe demonstrates that it has developed a regulatory program that meets all of the requirements in the SMCRA and implementing regulations issued by OSMRE (30 CFR Chapter VII). When a state or Indian tribe submits and receives approval of its proposed regulatory program from OSMRE, it becomes the primary regulator within that state or on reservation lands, respectively, and assumes responsibility over permitting, inspection, and enforcement activities. OSMRE then provides oversight of the state’s or tribe’s implementation of the regulatory program.
The fundamental purpose of oversight is to ensure that states and tribes are effectively implementing, administering, maintaining, and enforcing approved state and tribal programs.
OSMRE’s Directive REG-8, Oversight of State Regulatory Programs, defines "oversight," in the context of procedures for conducting oversight, as the "process of evaluating and assisting states [and tribes] in the administration, implementation and maintenance of approved regulatory programs." The Directive states that—
OSMRE’s oversight role will not involve any duplication of the State’s program implementation responsibilities. Oversight will not be process-driven. Instead, OSMRE oversight will focus on the on-the-ground/end-result success of the State program in achieving the purposes of the Act. Also, it will focus on identifying the need for and providing financial, technical, and other program assistance to States to strengthen their programs.
In other words, oversight includes inspections and other evaluations of how well state programs
are ensuring environmental protection, reclamation success, and prevention of off-site impacts. It also includes providing training to state employees to help them do their jobs better and technical assistance, such as information technology and software, to improve both state capability and efficiency in processing permit applications and evaluating reclamation.
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Public Participation and Outreach - Get Involved!
We encourage public participation in the Oversight Process. If you are interested in participating in this process, or in reading more on activities within a specific state/tribe, please select it from the list below. You will then be directed to the specific OSMRE Regional/Field Office responsible for oversight in that state/tribe.
Oversight Guidance Documents
The following documents provide more information on Oversight.
- Directive REG-8: Oversight of State Regulatory Programs
- Directive AML-22: Evaluation of State and Tribal AML Programs
- Directive REG-23:Corrective Actions for Regulatory Program Problems and Action Plans
- Directive INE-35: Ten-Day Notices
- Memorandum from OSMRE Director to Regional Directors: Application of the Ten-Day Notice Process and Federal Enforcement to Permitting Issues Under Approved Regulatory Programs
(November 15, 2010)
What is ODocs?
ODocs is OSMRE’s database that contains the oversight documents generated by the agency in accordance with REG-8. You can utilize the ODocs built-in search to view documents covering the various aspects of OSMRE's oversight. These documents include, but are not limited to, Annual Reports, Annual Performance Agreements, and Topic-specific reports. See below for a full list of available oversight documents. ODocs will open in a new window when the link is clicked. To begin a search, you must select a State or Tribe and an Evaluation Year. You can access ODocs at http://odocs.osmre.gov/.
Types of Oversight Documents
Reg-8 identifies 9 types of documents that describe the agency's oversight responsibilities and activities for a given evaluation year (EY). The following is a list of those types of documents and a short description:
- ANNUAL PERFORMANCE AGREEMENTS are written plans for conducting oversight activities in a state or on tribal lands during one or more Evaluation Years. Performance Agreements are developed by OSMRE in collaboration with the state or tribe to the maximum extent possible with consideration of input provided by the public.
- ACTION PLANS are detailed schedules of specific measures to be taken to resolve regulatory program problems identified during OSMRE's oversight of a state or tribal regulatory program.
- ANNUAL EVALUATION REPORTS are state or tribal program-specific reports prepared annually by OSMRE on the evaluation of a state or tribe's implementation, administration, maintenance, and enforcement of the state or tribal program.
- TOPIC SPECIFIC OVERSIGHT REPORTS are individual reports prepared annually by OSMRE as part of the oversight of each state and tribe that contain the findings and details regarding the evaluation of specific elements of state or tribal programs. Summaries of the Topic Specific Oversight Reports are contained in the Annual Evaluation Report for the state or tribe. Topics to be evaluated are specified in each Annual Performance Agreement for a state or tribe.
- MEETING SUMMARIES are summaries of public meetings and OSMRE/state/tribe meetings held concerning the oversight process including the meeting date, time, location, purpose and a synopsis of topics discussed.
- PUBLIC COMMENTS include comments, complaints or observations from citizens pertaining to the Performance Agreement, Annual Evaluation Report, or the evaluation process.
- CORRESPONDENCE includes copies of substantive letters or other correspondence concerning oversight evaluation techniques, topics, schedules and findings.
- SUMMARY OF CITIZEN COMPLAINTS identifies the number of complaints received by OSMRE; along with the topic, status, and the disposition of each.
- INSPECTABLE UNITS LIST/INSPECTIONS can include two types of reports: One report lists of all inspectable units within the state or tribal boundary. An inspectable unit is a surface coal mining and reclamation operation or a coal exploration operation for which an inspection obligation exists. One report lists all of the OSMRE oversight inspections completed during the Evaluation Year.