Proposed Colorado and Utah Cooperative Agreements Should Be Modified To Reduce State/Federal Duplication in Mine Plan Review

EMD-82-87: Published: May 27, 1982. Publicly Released: May 27, 1982.

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GAO reviewed the Department of the Interior's environmental analyses of coal mine plans.

The Interior's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) has been making a commendable effort to streamline regulations governing mine-plan reviews as well as other aspects of coal mining. GAO believes that further potential exists with respect to the proposed Colorado and Utah cooperative agreements. These agreements create a significant potential for duplication, are inconsistent with those which Interior already has with two other states, and do not comply with the OSM proposed amendments to the regulations governing future agreements, both of which require states to provide OSM with a combined technical and environmental analysis of mine plans on federal lands. By requiring states entering cooperative agreements to prepare combined analyses, Interior can: (1) reduce state and federal duplication in mine review; (2) decrease review costs; (3) lessen delays in mine-plan approval; and (4) ensure that states assume more responsibility for regulating mining on federal lands.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Interior will not comply with the recommendation to modify cooperative agreements because it would have no effect on the Federal Government's role or workload. Interior did not accept the reduction of payments recomendation for states that do not prepare combined technical and environmental analyses to cover Interior's increased costs.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should require the Director of OSM to (1) modify the proposed cooperative agreements to require Colorado and Utah to prepare a combined technical and environmental analysis of each mine plan on Federal lands; or (2) reduce payment to Colorado and Utah as well as to any other States that do not prepare combined technical and environmental analyses to cover the increased OSM costs.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior


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