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The Division of Reclamation (DOR) is responsible for oversight of active coal mining and restoration of land disturbed for coal extraction (Regulatory Section); and, restores land mined for coal, but abandoned without full or proper reclamation (Restoration Section). These programs are a cooperative effort between Indiana and the federal Department of the Interior, Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM).
DOR also administers the state laws (IC 14-36) pertaining to the mining of clay, shale and oil shale. These are typically small operations impacting much smaller areas than a coal mine. Each permit is good for one year and is renewable. Post-mining land uses are predominately wildlife habitat and water.
The Division of Reclamation administers Indiana’s Surface Coal Mine Reclamation Act following the grant of primacy to the state by the United States Department of Interior, Office of Surface Mining, in 1982. Coal mining contributes $5-6 billion annually to the Indiana economy - $116 million alone from the employment of approximately 2,500 mine workers. Indiana coal production places it consistently within the top ten coal producing states. The burning of coal accounts for 95 percent of the electricity produced in Indiana. The effectiveness of the Indiana program in balancing the national need for affordable energy while minimizing the environmental effects of mining is witnessed by relatively low cost of electricity within the state and national recognition for high quality mine reclamation in the state by the Office of Surface Mining and other national organizations.
The Regulatory Program is responsible for permitting and compliance verification, enforcement and financial assurance of comprehensive environmental protection performance standards related to surface and underground coal mining operations. Half of the 3.2 million cost of the regulatory program is provided through Title V federal grants through the Office of Surface Mining on a matching basis. The other half is provided through fees levied on coal production. Maintaining adequate fees to support the mandated activities of the agency has been a constant concern in recent years. The Division meets its statutory mandates through an annual work effort that includes:
Since 1982, the Restoration Program of the Department of Natural Resource’s Division of Reclamation has worked to protect the citizens of Indiana from the adverse effects of old mining practices. Mines that operated before 1977 were not subject to the same federal regulations as today and often left hazardous and
unproductive lands behind.
Coal mining began in Indiana in the 1800s and by 1977 more than 170,000 acres of surface mines and 163,000 acres of underground mines with more than 2,300 entries dotted the landscape of southwest Indiana.
The Federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (P.L.95-87) of 1977 not only set standards for future mining; it resulted in the collection of fees on active mining to pay for these historical problems. With the adoption of the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) program in Indiana in 1982, work began restoring these lands to safe and productive conditions. In the last 20 years, roughly 8000 acres of abandoned and derelict land has been reclaimed, including more than 142,000 feet of highwalls, more than 900 dangerous mine openings and subsidences, 300 structures, 160 acres of trash, and 3700 acres of environmentally threatening coal slurry and gob.