A coalition of 23 organizations, and several individuals, working to protect the land and people of our nation’s coalfields from environmental harm associated with surface coal mining operations, filed a joint set of 65-pages of comments on June 15, 2020 in opposition to a proposed Trump Administration rulemaking that would reduce federal oversight and enforcement under the 1977 Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.
The comments were prepared under difficult circumstances, since the Department of the Interior refused numerous requests from the organizations and from members of Congress, for an extension of the brief 30-day comment period.
The proposed regulatory changes redefine the relationship between State Regulatory Authorities and the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement in a manner that undercuts accountability of state regulatory authorities in the day-to-day administration and enforcement of the Act and the approved state programs.
If finalized, the rule changes would significantly impair the ability of the communities who bear the brunt of coal mining’s negative impacts to seek enforcement of SMCRA’s provisions in cases where the state regulatory authority is - through intent or inadvertence - failing to maintain, implement, administer, and enforce the Act and the approved state program on a case-specific basis.
KRC had the privilege of coordinating and editing numerous sections of the comments prepared by representatives of the Appalachian Citizens Law Center, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Sierra Club, Citizens Coal Council, and others, and authored some of the comments in the 65-page document.
If the rule is finalized without major changes, KRC will be involved in litigating the legality of the final rule.