U.S. Department of the Interior

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Regulating Coal Mines

Title V of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act

Protecting the Environment

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 OSMRE performing an oversight role. OSMRE also partners with states and Indian tribes to regulate mining on Federal lands and to support states' regulatory programs with grants and technical assistance.

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) is the primary regulator of coal mining under 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.
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Funding for States and Indian Tribes


Laws, Regulations, and Guidance

Page Last Modified/Reviewed: 4/29/14

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