Coal Mining Law and Regulations
Today, DMRM has jurisdiction over approximately 265 coal mining permits. House Bill 443 and Senate Bill 73 require DMRM to maintain an estimate of the cost to reclaim (Performance Security Estimate - PSE) on each permitted site. These estimates are required to be updated as new area is added or reclamation costs change but, at a minimum, on an annual basis.
CURRENT OHIO COAL MINING LAW & RULES
Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 1513 and Ohio Administrative Code 1501.13; or Link to Coal Regulations by subject
In addition to the mining and reclamation laws, operators must comply with a host of other local, state, and federal laws and programs to maintain a permit to mine coal in Ohio. Federal laws include the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Federal Coal Mine Safety and Health Act, Endangered Species Act, Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, National Historic Preservation Act, the Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act, and Executive Order 11593 which relates to the protection of both historic and pre-historic sites.
Ohio’s first state law regulating coal mining, the Strip Coal Mining Act, became effective in 1947. This law required Ohio mine operators to have a state-issued license and, to ensure that reclamation would be performed, to pay a bond of $100.00 for each acre of land mined. In 1949, a strengthened version of this law created the Division of Reclamation within the Department of Agriculture.
Early surface reclamation requirements were much less strict than the requirements in place today. The early versions of the surface mining laws in Ohio were refined and strengthened throughout the next three decades. Gradually, reclamation bonds were increased and requirements for the success of revegetation and for the restriction of off-site pollution were tightened. In 1972, a far-reaching revision of the strip mine law took effect in Ohio. This law required regrading of the mine spoil to approximate pre-mining contour of the land, replacement of topsoil, and the establishment of a successful vegetation cover by the mine operator prior to the State’s release of reclamation bond. When this law was passed, it was the most comprehensive strip mine law in the nation.
The first Ohio law governing underground coal mining went into effect in 1949, requiring miners to close or fence all surface openings to underground mines abandoned after June of 1941. In 1981, this law was made more stringent in order to remain in compliance with Federal law. Underground mines are now regulated by DMRM, and have reclamation requirements similar to those for surface mines.
On August 3, 1977, the United States Congress passed the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). This Act established stringent national standards for coal mining and reclamation. SMCRA created the federal Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM).
Because of the diverse mining conditions in the United States, Congress intended that the states become the primary regulator. Each state proposes its own laws and regulations for the mining industry. These laws and regulations must meet or exceed federal standards and are subject to approval by the Secretary of the Interior. This procedure allows individual states to gain primacy control over the regulation of surface mining. The Secretary of the Interior approved Ohio’s regulatory and AML program in 1982.