In the past 12 months, the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement has improved its regulatory programs and increased the number of oversight inspections of coal-mining operations, evaluating how each state administers its regulatory program. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar publically commended the Office of Surface Mining in their efforts to find balance between regulation and America's need for coal.
Secretary Salazar: “Moving forward with a new effort on how we protect streams as we do mountaintop mining here in this country, that kind of balance is something that we're going to continue to strive for. To make sure that we are allowing coal mining to move forward but at the same time that we protect the special areas that make our country great.”
Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Wilma Lewis said the OSM has made great strides in establishing consistent, transparent and effective policies in a short amount of time.
AS Lewis: “These reforms and these efforts to carry them out in --- to the benefit of all Americans, all Americans in this country. And they help to ensure that mining is done in a safer and more environmentally responsible manner. It is therefore fitting I think today to celebrate, one year after these reform initiatives were first announced, it's appropriate for us to take a moment and reflect on your achievements and to congratulate all of you on a job very, very well done.”
The Director of the Office of Surface Mining Joseph Pizarchik described some of the improvements.
Dir. Pizarchik: “One area was to try and move into more technical logical advancements with the global positioning systems etcetera in order to be able to do a better job. OSM also conducted an oversight of the bonding programs in the states that we oversee. Those are the bonds that are posted to ensure that the operator reclaims the sites after they have removed the coal. We determined that we need to redouble our efforts to do a better job of working with our state partners to correct deficiencies that we found in those bonding programs.
OSM's mission was set out by Congress 33 years ago when it enacted the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977.
Ron Tull, Department of the Interior, Washington.