Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (1977)

Elizabeth D. Schafer

In: Encyclopedia of Politics of the American West

Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (1977)

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  • The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA), which President Jimmy Carter signed on August 3, 1977, outlined regulations monitoring coal mining and restoring areas where that activity had been discontinued. When the United States experienced erratic foreign oil imports, SMCRA enabled extraction of domestic energy resources needed for increased energy consumption and minimized the detrimental impact of mining techniques on the environment. Western states have large quantities of coal resources. For example, North Dakota has 16 billion tons of coal. Coal deposits are in 12 percent of New Mexico, mostly on Native American land. Oklahoma has approximately 7.8 billion tons of coal.

    Industrial demand for coal increased during the twentieth century, resulting in some companies implementing strip-mining methods to extract that mineral from ground deposits. ...

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