ND gets high marks for its reclamation and abandoned mine lands programs

Oct 25, 2018

Public Service Commissioners Brian Kroshus (l); chairman Randy Christmann; Julie Fedorchak.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota’s coal reclamation and abandoned mine programs are again getting high marks from the federal Office of Surface Mining.

The programs are part of the state Public Service Commission. OSM called the programs “very effective” – and said North Dakota does well with a small staff.

"We're able to get the coal out and put the land back, in a really effective way," said Commissioner Julie Fedorchak. She said this is by design.

"Our staff live and work right in the areas where they're regulating the mines," Fedorchak said. "Who is going to have more of a vested interest in having an effective program -- a federal regulator, or state regulators who live and work right here? It's just the best way to do it."

Since its inception, the abandoned mine program has finished 164 projects, at a cost of $53.4 million. That program is funded by coal companies who pay an added federal tax for that program.

"These projects have reduced the likelihood of death or injury to property owners and the public," said PSC Chairman Randy Christmann.

Christmann said the program could expire soon – and he said he will be lobbying North Dakota’s Congressional delegation to keep it.