U.S. Department of the Interior

Graphic of trees and lake scenery.

Who We Are

Marking 43 Years of SMCRA

Since its creation on August 3, 1977, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), along with its state and tribal partners, community organizations and industry, have worked to ensure the cleanup of millions of acres of pre- Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) abandoned mine lands and the return of post-SMCRA mined lands to productive and beneficial use.

OSMRE continues its efforts to meet one of the primary purposes of SMCRA - to strike the balance between protection of the environment and agricultural productivity and the Nation's need for coal as a source of energy.

To that end, OSMRE employees have been among the innovators behind such efforts as the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, the Watershed Cooperative Agreement Program, and the design of comprehensive training and technical assistance programs for states and tribes.

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) is a bureau within the United States Department of the Interior. OSMRE is responsible for establishing a nationwide program to protect society and the environment from the adverse effects of surface coal mining operations, under which OSMRE is charged with balancing the nation’s need for continued domestic coal production with protection of the environment.

OSMRE was created in 1977 when Congress enacted the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. OSMRE works with states and tribes to ensure that citizens and the environment are protected during coal mining and that the land is restored to beneficial use when mining is finished. OSMRE and its partners are also responsible for reclaiming and restoring lands and Photo of reclaimed land, pond filled with plant life water degraded by mining operations before 1977.

OSMRE is organized with Headquarters located in Washington DC, and three regional offices – the Appalachian, Mid-Continent, and Western Regional Offices. The Regional Offices are composed of Area and Field Offices.

In its beginning, OSMRE directly enforced mining laws and arranged cleanup of abandoned mine lands. Today, most coal states have developed their own programs to do those jobs themselves, as Congress envisioned. OSMRE focuses on overseeing the state programs and developing new tools to help the states and tribes get the job done.

OSMRE also works with colleges and universities and other state and Federal agencies to further the science of reclaiming mined lands and protecting the environment, including initiatives to promote planting more trees and establishing much-needed wildlife habitat. Each year, OSMRE trains hundreds of state and tribal professionals in a broad range of needed skills.

Although a small bureau, OSMRE has achieved big results by working closely with those closest to the problem: the States, Tribes, local groups, the coal industry and communities.

Page Last Modified/Reviewed: 8/27/20

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