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North Dakota State Public Service Commission

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600 E. Boulevard Ave., Dept. 408
Bismarck, ND 58505-0480

701.328.2400 - Phone
877.245.6685 - Toll-Free
800.366.6888 - TTY
701.328.2410 - Fax

Know What's Below, Call before you dig.

Jurisdiction: Coal Mining

The Commission is proposing some mining and reclamation rule changes, Case No. RC-15-737, as the result of statutory changes made by Senate Bill 2377 during the 2015 Legislative Session.  The proposed rule changes relate to “commercial leonardite.” The following documents pertain to this rulemaking case:

  1. Proposed Rule Changes
  2. Statement Regarding Regulatory Analysis, Small Entity Analysis and Impact, and Taking Assessments
  3. Notice of Intent to Amend Administrative Rules and Notice of Public Hearing


The Commission's Reclamation Division is charged with the responsibility of administering the State's program regulating the surface mining of coal. The program is primarily an environmental protection program. The Reclamation Division's mission statement is as follows:

The Reclamation Division strives to administer the surface coal mining and reclamation program mandated by state and federal law to achieve optimum results in a cost-effective and fair manner, and to ensure that mining operations subject to this program are conducted in such a way that they:

Related goals are to: Continually carry out the mine permitting, inspection and bond release activities in a manner that provides the required protection to the environment and property owners while being responsive to needs of the mining industry. Continually evaluate and adjust the regulatory program to achieve the optimum balance among environmental protection, least-cost industry operations and landowner pursuit of agricultural interests; Continue to explore the scientific, engineering and statistical underpinnings of the regulatory program and make every effort to see that improvements resulting from that exploration are made at both the state and federal level; Promote public awareness of the regulatory program through increased contact with relevant organizations and potentially affected landowners; and Maintain maximum staff effectiveness by providing training and other opportunities for professional growth.

The Reclamation Division evaluates surface mining permit, permit revision and renewal applications, makes recommendations to the Commissioners regarding permit issuance, and carries out inspections of coal mines to ensure compliance with the program's requirements. The Division is staffed by nine full-time specialists in agricultural and physical sciences, and engineering.

Regulation of the coal industry in North Dakota began in 1970. Approximately 144,000 acres have been put under permit since that time and over 27,000 of those acres have been released completely from performance bond. As of June 30, 2016, a total of 133,527 acres have been permitted, with approximately 78,013 (58%) disturbed by mining activity to date. Of these disturbed acres, approximately 54,094 acres have been backfilled, graded, top-soiled and seeded (or 69% of the lands disturbed have been reclaimed to the point of establishing vegetation). Since 1980, North Dakota's regulatory program has been a partnership effort between the State and the US Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining. At present, 64% of program costs are borne by the Department of the Interior. The remaining 36% comes from funds appropriated by the Legislature.

North Dakota is the 10th largest coal producer in the United States, with an average production of approximately 27.5 million tons per year over the past several years. Nearly all of the coal is used within the State at mine-mouth power generating facilities and the nation's only commercially operating coal gasification plant.

Link to the website of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.





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