OSM also plans national initiatives on the approximate original contour, reclamation rules and on ensuring mine operators post adequate mine cleanup bonds.
“Through tougher oversight and stronger enforcement, we are putting all hands on deck to ensure that Appalachian communities are protected,” said OSM Director Joseph Pizarchik.
Today, OSM has about 525 employees, or half the number in 1990, the agency reported. It has 47 oversight inspectors compared with 107 active inspectors in the 1990s. As a result, OSM said inspections have dropped from a high of 4,000 a year in the 1990s to fewer than 1,500 nowadays.
Such difference as that and others will change, OSM officials said. In the past agency inspectors have invited state inspectors to go along at mine sites, but in the future, OSM inspectors will make their own individual inspections.
OSM is changing the regulatory process with advance notice of proposed rule-making changes rather than taking the quicker course of publishing and accepting public comments on a proposed rule.