OFFICE OF SURFACE MINING RECLAMATION AND ENFORCEMENT
OSM's MAJOR PROGRAMS
Title V of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act
The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) balances the need to protect the environment from the adverse effects of surface coal mining with the Nation's need for coal as an essential energy source. It ensures that coal mining operations are conducted in an environmentally responsible manner and that the land is adequately reclaimed during and following the mining process. Most coal-mining states now have the primary responsibility to regulate surface coal mining on lands within their jurisdiction, with OSM performing an oversight role. OSM also partners with states and Indian tribes to regulate mining on Federal lands and to support states' regulatory programs with grants and technical assistance.
Title IV of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act
In general, abandoned mine lands are lands and waters adversely impacted by inadequately reclaimed surface coal mining operations on lands that were not subject to the reclamation requirements of the Surface Mining Law. Environmental problems associated with abandoned mine lands include surface and ground water pollution, entrances to open mines, water-filled pits, unreclaimed or inadequately reclaimed refuse piles and minesites (including some with dangerous highwalls), sediment-clogged streams, damage from landslides, and fumes and surface instability resulting from mine fires and burning coal refuse. Environmental restoration activities under the abandoned mine reclamation program correct or mitigate these problems.
One of the ways that the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement balances coal production with environmental protection is by providing resources for technical assistance, training, and technology development. These activities support and enhance the technical skills that states and tribes need to operate their regulatory and reclamation programs in order to effectively implement the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.