The Tennessee General Assembly recently approved an amendment and rewrite of the Primacy and Reclamation Act, which would transfer the regulation and permitting of coal mining in the state from the federal government to the state.

House Bill 90 carried by Rep. Dennis Powers, R-Jacksboro, and Senate Bill 742, co-sponsored by Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston, is designed to clean up legislation passed in 2018 to put coal mining regulations under state authority, shifting oversight from the federal Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).

According to Powers, Tennessee is the only state with surface mining that doesn’t have its own regulatory program. He said the federal government must determine that the state’s program is “at least as stringent as federal law” and that the state can administer and operate it, said Powers, who passed the initial legislation in 2018.

Gov. Bill Lee signed the bill on May 26, which waits for the federal government’s approval before it becomes effective. The state lost control in the 80s.