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OSMRE announces rule making it easier for public to report coal mine problems

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Revised rule will help safeguard communities and environment from mining impacts

WASHINGTON – The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement today announced changes to the Ten-Day Notice rule that will make it easier for citizens to report mining concerns, safeguarding people and the environment from the adverse effects of coal mining.

“OSMRE could not do its job as effectively without citizen input, which is critical for holding coal companies accountable and helping regulators ensure the protection of public health, safety, and the environment,” said OSMRE Principal Deputy Director Sharon Buccino. “This rule will help ensure that citizen voices are heard and that their concerns regarding adverse mining impacts are addressed in a timely manner.”

In 24 states, OSMRE has delegated the administration of the Surface Mining Control Reclamation and Act (SMCRA) to state regulatory authorities. OSMRE and the states work together to ensure that the public and the environment are protected from legacy and active coal mining operations.

The Ten-Day process is initiated when OSMRE receives information about a possible SMCRA violation, such as excessive dust from operations, pollution reaching water supplies, or noise levels exceeding those approved in the permit. OSMRE evaluates the available information to determine if there is a reason to believe a violation exists. If OSMRE determines that there is a reason to believe a violation exists, OSMRE gives notice to the state regulatory authority. The state regulatory authority has 10 days to respond back to OSMRE of its findings.

OSMRE reexamined the 2020 TDN rule and decided to amend its regulations to ensure that possible SMCRA violations are identified and addressed in a timely manner. The amended rule reduces burdens for citizens to report a mining problem and establishes procedures to more swiftly evaluate and process citizen allegations about possible mine violations, while continuing to minimize duplication of inspections, enforcement, and administration of SMCRA. The rule also amends the federal regulations regarding corrective actions for state regulatory program issues. Together, the updates amend the overall TDN process.

The new rule – which takes effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register– enhances citizen participation, fixes the delays in the process, and increases efficiency by:

  • Removing language that require a citizen to first contact a state regulatory authority prior to contacting OSMRE to report a possible SMCRA violation.
  • Adding language stating that all citizen complaints be considered as requests for federal inspections.
  • Dropping the requirement that a citizen must state the basis for their allegation of a possible violation.
  • Allowing OSMRE to issue a single TDN for similar possible violations found on two or more permits.
  • Requiring OSMRE to issue a TDN for any possible violation after forming a reason to believe a SMRCA violation exists.
  • Requiring a state regulatory authority to respond to the TDN with actions to fix the violation, instead of submitting a plan to fix the violation.

During the public comment period, OSMRE received over 5,000 comments from concerned citizens, state governments, trade associations, environmental advocacy groups, and private companies. OSMRE considered these comments in developing the final rule. To read the final rule, visit


OSMRE carries out the requirements of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 in cooperation with states and Tribes. OSMRE’s objectives are to ensure that coal mining activities are conducted in a manner that protects citizens and the environment during mining, to ensure that the land is restored to beneficial use after mining, and to mitigate the effects of past mining by aggressively pursuing reclamation of abandoned coal mines. For more information, visit or connect with us through any of these social media channels:  FacebookFlickrInstagramLinkedInX, and YouTube.