Fighting for Increased Mining Operations Oversight

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Once again, KRC is proud to represent a coalition of environmental and community groups to work towards strengthening our nation’s environmental protections. 

This time, we represent Citizens Coal Council, Appalachian Voices, and the Sierra Club in a federal court challenge to the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement’s (OSMRE) revised Ten-Day Notice Rule. The revision will weaken federal oversight of state program implementation under the 1977 Surface Mining Act. 

The previous Ten-Day Notice Rule required that once an official complaint of a mine-site violation was substantiated, the OSMRE must immediately direct the appropriate state regulator to resolve the breach within ten days. If no resolution occurred by that deadline, OSMRE would begin its investigation. For those individuals living and working near mining operations, this level of speed is essential because it allows for quick mitigation or pausing of dangers near home, school, or work.

That rule changed in fall 2020. OSMRE must now receive “all readily available information, including any information that State regulatory authority provides” before issuing the ten-day notice. This change risks delaying the suspension of dangerous mining operations, which could harm nearby living and working conditions. 

KRC and our partner organizations are fighting for improvements to this rule. The lawsuit we filed, which outlines how the revisions to the ten-day rule will stall meaningful investigations, has received a stay by the Interior Department (instead of filing a formal response). The Biden Administration has also published a notice in its Regulatory Agenda that it intends to conduct a new rulemaking to reconsider, among other issues, the changes effected. Until a final decision, the Biden Administration provides a periodic log of all citizen complaints received by OSMRE and their disposition. This provision allows individuals to track the complaints and ensure that the revised rule does not fail to produce a ten-day notice. 
We are at the beginning of this journey to improve this federal rule, and we are looking forward to making progress towards protections for all.

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By Kentucky Resources Council on 01/06/2022 10:21 PM
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