Summary: H.R.26 — 94th Congress (1975-1976)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.26. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in House (01/14/1975)

Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act - Title I: Statement of Findings and policy - Declares that most of the nation's coal reserve can only be mined by underground methods. States the purposes of this Act, including to establish a nationwide program to prevent the adverse effects to society and the environment from surface coal mining.

Title II: Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement - Establishes in the Interior Department the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement with a director appointed by the President. States that such office shall administer the programs required by this Act and assist the States in development of State programs for surface coal mining and reclamation.

Title III: State Mining and Mineral Resources Research Institute - Authorizes appropriation to the Secretary of the Interior of sums adequate to provide for each participating State $200,000 for fiscal year 1975, $300,000 for fiscal year 1976, and $400,000 for each fiscal year thereafter for 5 years, to assist the States in carrying on the work or a competent and qualified mining and mineral resources research institute or center agency at the school of mines of one public college or university of the State. Requires such monies to be matched dollar for dollar by the States.

Authorizes appropriation of $15,000,000 for fiscal year 1975, such sum to be increased by $2,000,000 each fiscal year for 6 years thereafter, for specific projects in mining and mineral research in research institutes.

Directs the Secretary to establish a center for cataloging current and projectd scientific research in mining and mineral resources.

Directs the Secretary to establish a center for cataloging current and projected scientific research in mining and mineral resources.

Requires the Secretary to appoint an Advisory Committee on Mining and Mineral Research to advise him on all matters concerning mining and mineral resources research.

Title IV: Abandoned Mine Reclamation - Creates the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund in the Treasury. Requires operators of coal mines to pay into the fund quarterly fees of $.35 per ton of coal produced by surface mining and $.25 per ton of coal produced by underground mining, or 10 percent of the value of the coal in the mine, whichever is less.

Authorizes use of money in the Fund for acquisition and reclamation of abandoned and unreclaimed mined lands and for acquisitions and fillings of voids and sealing of tunnels and entryways in abandoned mines.

Permits the Secretary to acquire land by condemnation for reclamation.

Encourages States to acquire abandoned and unreclaimed land, and to transfer to the Secretary for reclamation, and authorizes matching grants for such purpose, up to 90 percent of land price.

Allows resale of reclaimed land by public bidding, and allows local public participation in determining the use of reclaimed land.

Title V: Control of the Environmental Impacts of Surface Coal Mining - Requires the Secretary of the Interior to implement within 135 days of enactment, a Federal program of enforcement of specified standards to remain in effect until State programs are approved.

Directs publication within 180 days of enactment of regulations covering surface coal mining and reclamation, setting standards for State programs. States that such regulations must meet approval of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator.

Requires States, within 18 months of enactment, to submit programs for carrying out this Act, such programs to include a State regulatory authority capable of regulating surface coal mining, State laws providing for sanctions for violations of regulations, and a permit system for surface coal mining regulation. Demands that such State programs meet the approval of the EPA Administrator.

Subjects State programs to approval of Secretary of Interior within 6 months.

Requires implementation of a Federal program of surface coal mining regulation where States fail in such implementation.

Permits State laws and regulations that are more stringent than this Act.

Requires, 30 months after enactment, that no surface coal mining shall take place except where a permit, good for 5 years, has been issued.

States that permits application must demonstrate ability and intent to comply with this Act and assurance that reclamation can be achieved.

Requires permit applications to describe the method of mining and equipment proposed to be used, to describe by maps the land to be affected, and to contain a statement of results of test borings or core samplings of the affected land.

States that permits must be accompanied by a mining and reclamation plan which shall include a description of present uses of the land, steps to be taken to prevent environmental damage, and a description of the reclamation activities.

Requires the posting of performance bonds and possession of liability insurance by applicants for permits.

Sets general performance standards for environmental protection in surface coal mining which permittees under this Act must meet. Imposes additional standards for steep-slope surface mining.

Directs the Secretary to promulgate rules and regulations directed at the surface effects of underground mining, including specified requirements.

Directs and authorizes inspection of surface coal mining and reclamation to determine compliance with this Act and regulations. Provides for requirement of record keeping and submittal and monitoring by mine operators. Requires surprise inspections by regulatory agencies not less than once a month.

Requires civil penalties for violation of this Act or regulations under it.

Provides that when an operator completes the backfilling, regrading, and drainage control of a bonded area, he may request a release of 60 percent of the bond. Provides that the remaining amount may be returned upon completion of all reclamation. Allows persons with a legal interest to file objections to release of bond, and for public hearings to follow.

Permits any person to bring a civil suit against any person, including the United States, alleged to be in violation of this Act.

Allows the court to award costs of litigation to parties in suits brought under this Act.

Permits the Secretary to intervene in actions under this Act.

Allows, where State regulatory authorities do not exist or fail to act, for Federal enforcement of this Act and of permit conditions. Permits issuance of an order to cease mining and reclamation.

Provides for the Attorney General to institute civil suit for a restraining order or injunction to enforce this Act or regulations under it.

Directs States to designate as unsuitable for surface coal mining those areas where reclamation is impossible or where land is fragile or of historical value. Prohibits existing mining operations from being declared unsuitable.

Requires implementation of a Federal lands program applicable to all surface mining and reclamation operations on Federal land. Requires such program to, at least, adopt all requirements of this Act.

Demands separate regulations for programs for special bituminous coal surface mines that meet speicified criteria, and for anthracite coal surface mines which are regulated by environmental protection standards of the States.

Title VI: Designation of Lands Unsuitable for Noncoal Mining - Allows the Secretary to designate Federal lands unsuitable for mining materials other than coal, if they are predominantly urban or suburban in character or if such mining operations would have an adverse impact on lands used primarily for residential and related purposes.

Title VII: Administrative and Miscellaneous Provisions - Defines the terms used in this Act. Prohibits discrimination against employees for filing suit under this Act and for testifying in a proceeding under this Act.

Requires the Secretary to submit an annual report to the President and the Congress.

Directs the President to minimize the adverse impact upon employment of any actions taken pursuant to this Act. Authorizes the Secretary of Labor to make grants to the States to provide cash benefits to individuals who have lost their jobs as a direct result of this Act and who are not eligible for unemployment assistance or who have exhausted their unemployment benefits.

Directs the Secretary to contract with the National Academy of Sciences-National Academy of Engineering for a study of surface coal mining conditions in Alaska in order to determine which, if any, of the provisions of this Act should be modified with respect to such operations in Alaska.

Directs the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality to contract with the National Academy of Sciences-National Academy of Engineering and other groups for a study of the technology for surface and open-pit mining and reclamation for minerals other than coal designed to assist in the development of regulation for such operations.

Directs the Secretary to consult with Indian tribes in studying the regulation of surface mining on Indian lands.

Authorizes appropriations to carry out this Act, as follows: (1) $10,000,000 for various contract authority immediately and for the next two fiscal years; (2) for administrative and other purposes, $10,000,000 for fiscal year 1975, $20,000,000 for fiscal years 1976 and 1977, and $30,000,000 for fiscal years thereafter; (3) for research and demonstration projects, $35,000,000 for fiscal year 1976 and for each fiscal year thereafter, $250,000 for the Alaskan surface coal mine study; and (4) $500,000 for the study of surface mining of other minerals.

Requires the written consent of the owner of the surface rights before the Secretary shall lease Federally-owned mineral rights, and requires compensation to be paid by the lessee to the surface owner.