OFFICE OF SURFACE MINING RECLAMATION AND ENFORCEMENT
Library of COALEX Research Reports
COALEX Research Reports are the products of research and analysis conducted on specific issues relating to the regulation of Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977. The research is conducted in response to requests for information from State Regulatory Authorities, under a cooperative agreement between the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) and the Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC).
COALEX refers to the Library of Surface Mining Materials maintained by OSM in LEXIS-NEXIS and is a major source for the research.
Each Report includes a list of resources which were sent as attachments to the individual who requested the research. To obtain a copy of the attachments or to obtain any additional information, contact Joyce Zweben Scall by phone at 202-686-9138 or by email at JZScall@aol.com.
COALEX STATE COMPARISON REPORT - 246
Karen Jacobs, Esquire
Illinois Department of Mines and Minerals
300 West Jefferson Street - Suite 300
P.O. Box 10137
Springfield, Illinois 62791-0137
TOPIC: PRIME FARMLAND CONVERSION
INQUIRY: The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) intends to route a state road through prime farmland owned by a coal company. The prime farmland has been mined and revegetation has been established; however, productivity requirements have not yet been met. IDOT intends to purchase the land from the coal company rather than use its eminent domain powers. Does the state's purchase of the prime farmland and subsequent conversion of the land to some use other than farmland relieve the coal company from the prohibition against decreasing aggregate prime farmland acreage? Or, is the coal company obligated to make up for the "converted" farmland by constructing it elsewhere on the permit area? Has any IMCC member state dealt with this or similar issues?
SEARCH RESULTS: A survey of seven IMCC member states was conducted by telephone. None of the states contacted has experienced this situation. Responses can be divided into four categories. These are as follows:
SURVEY QUESTIONS AND RESPONSES
1. State's purchase of the land releases the coal company from the prime farmland requirements.
2. Coal company should request a change of the postmining land use to highway.
3. Revise the permit to delete the proposed road acreage; release the bond for the area deleted.
4. Acquire the land by eminent domain.
Those surveyed stated that one of SMCRA's aims is to prevent the reduction of prime farmland because of mining. Nothing in SMCRA would prevent a state from reducing prime farmland by building a highway after successful productivity standards are met.
One federal decision, EAGLE FOUNDATION, INC. v DOLE, 813 F2d 798 (7th Cir 1987), is enclosed. The court found that the routing of a limited access highway running through a county conservation area was reasonable where there was proper planning to minimize harm and there were no other feasible alternatives.
Survey and research conducted by: Joyce Zweben Scall