U.S. Department of the Interior

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What is Oversight?

The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) created a limited initial regulatory program directly administered and enforced by OSMRE. However, Congress intended that this program be only a temporary measure until States adopted regulatory programs consistent with the Act. Section 101 of SMCRA specifies that the primary governmental responsibility for regulating surface mining and reclamation operations should rest with the States. To achieve primary regulatory responsibility, often referred to as primacy, a State must develop and obtain Secretarial approval of a program that meets the requirements of the Act and that is no less effective than the federal regulations in achieving the requirements of the Act. The State also must demonstrate that it has the administrative, financial, and legal capabilities to carry out the provisions of the Act. Upon approval, the State becomes the primary regulatory authority for coal mining and coal exploration within its borders. Currently, 24 States have primacy.

The SMCRA Amendments Act of 2006 authorized Indian Tribes to apply for and obtain primacy for the regulation, in whole or in part, of surface coal mining and reclamation operations on reservation land under the jurisdiction of the Tribe. However, at present, no Tribe has achieved primacy.

OSMRE assumes an oversight role after a State or Tribe achieves primacy. Oversight is the process of evaluating and assisting States and Tribes in the administration, implementation, enforcement, and maintenance of their approved regulatory programs. That role includes both programmatic evaluations and inspections of individual mine sites. Two primary objectives of oversight of State and Tribal programs are to identify potential problems and their root cause and to assist States and Tribes in resolving any problems or other issues that are identified.

OSMRE Directive REG-8 establishes policies and procedures for oversight evaluations of State and Tribal regulatory programs. Each year, OSMRE develops a performance agreement and evaluation plan to guide oversight activities within the State or Tribe for that year. That process includes solicitation and consideration of public input. OSMRE collaborates with the State or Tribe to the extent possible in developing the evaluation plan. OSMRE field and regional offices maintain an evaluation file and prepare an annual evaluation report for each State and Tribe.

When OSMRE’s oversight activities identify an issue that could result in a failure by the State or Tribe to effectively implement, administer, enforce, or maintain any portion of its regulatory program, the OSMRE field or regional office will work with the State or Tribe to develop an action plan to resolve the problem before it escalates into a situation that could result in substitution of federal enforcement or withdrawal of program approval under 30 CFR 733.12.

OSMRE Directive AML-22 establishes policies and procedures for evaluation of State and tribal abandoned mine land reclamation programs.

How Can I Review Oversight Documents?

Selected oversight documents are available for review on ODocs, which is an electronic database with a built-in search capability that OSMRE maintains. You can access ODocs at To begin a search, you must select a State or Tribe and an evaluation year. Please refer to the ODocs website for a description of the types of documents that may be available and to determine which documents are available for a particular State or Tribe.

Public Participation and Outreach - Get Involved!

We encourage public participation in the oversight process. If you are interested in participating in this process within a specific State or Tribe, please select it from the list below. You will then be directed to the specific OSMRE Regional or Field Office responsible for oversight in that State or Tribe.

States and Tribes with Active Regulatory or Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Programs
Alabama Alaska Arkansas Crow Tribe
Colorado Hopi Tribe Illinois Indiana
Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana
Maryland Mississippi Missouri Montana
Navajo Nation New Mexico North Dakota Ohio
Oklahoma Pennsylvania Tennessee Texas
Utah Virginia Washington West Virginia

Oversight Guidance Documents

The following documents provide more information on oversight.

Page Last Modified/Reviewed: 5/21/15

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