Abandoned Mine Land Oversight
Title IV of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA or “the Act”), as amended, provides moneys to States and Indian tribes from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund (the Fund) and the general Treasury of the United States. The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) administers Title IV of SMCRA on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior. The primary purpose of Title IV is to pay the costs of mitigating past coal mining effects, though it also allows certain noncoal problems to be addressed. On December 20, 2006, the President signed the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-432). That legislation included the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act Amendments of 2006 (the 2006 Act or the 2006 SMCRA amendments). The 2006 Act amended Title IV of SMCRA to make significant changes in the abandoned mine reclamation fee and the AML program. OSMRE published final regulations implementing the 2006 Act in the November 14, 2008, Federal Register (73 FR 67576). Those final regulations took effect January 13, 2009.
OSMRE awards grants to States and Indian tribes with moneys from the Fund and the general Treasury to pay their administration costs and reclaim abandoned mines. SMCRA puts the highest priority on correcting the most serious abandoned mine land (AML) problems that endanger public health, safety, and property. As amended, it also allows certain lower priority problems to be addressed if they are in conjunction with, or adjacent to, higher priority problems. OSMRE, State, and Indian tribal AML programs work together to achieve the goals of the national program. OSMRE also works cooperatively with the States and Indian tribes to evaluate their AML programs.
Directive AML-22 generally describes how OSMRE evaluates State and Tribal AML reclamation programs in “enhancement and performance reviews.” Annual Reports can be found at https://www.osmre.gov/resources/annualReports.shtm.