The Office of Surface Mining (OSM) is responsible for the oversight of active coal mining operation and the restoration of lands and waters scarred by abandoned coal mines. The agency collects funding for abandoned mine reclamation through the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) of 1977, which placed a fee of 35 cents per ton on surface mined coal and 15 cents per ton on coal mined underground.
The fees are held by the OSM and transferred to the States based on congressional budgetary appropriations. In general, 50 percent of the reclamation fees collected in each State are returned to the state for mine reclamation, if the state has a federally approved reclamation program. The funds are to be used for coal mines that were abandoned prior to August 3, 1977. States which have officially certified that they have completed all their coal mine reclamation can use this money for hardrock and other noncoal mine reclamation. At the present, only two western states, Montana and Wyoming, receive SMCRA funding for mine reclamation.
The remaining 50 percent of the SMCRA fee is used by the OSM for high priority projects and other programs. Through the Appalachian Clean Streams Initiative, Watershed Intern Program, Vista Watershed Team, and agency-led reclamation projects, the OSM has helped community groups, state agencies, and other partnering organizations reclaim over (??) abandoned coal mines in the eastern United States.
Office of Surface Mining – Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation