The group asked OSM to consider a rule to prohibit the production of visible nitrogen oxide during blasting operations for coal mining activities. Typically, released nitrogen oxide is evident by an orange-tinted cloud of gas if the blasting charges are not properly detonated. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) already prohibits blasting that would harm people or property, but the rules are not as clear as they could be with respect to toxic gases.

“After careful consideration, I have decided OSM must clarify its rules to prevent harm to people and property during blasting operations,” said Pizarchik. “There are many responsible operators and regulators who understand they must and do blast in a manner that protects people.”

In July, OSM solicited and accepted public comment on the potential rule for 60 days. After reviewing the comments, Pizarchik decided it was appropriate to move forward with a proposed rulemaking. OSM will clarify the current regulations to define “blast area,” and make it clear that blasters must recognize and protect the public from toxic gases that result from explosive operations at coal mines. The bureau will publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at a later date.