Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act

A 40-year-old Federal Law Literally Changed the Appalachian Landscape

Aug 5, 2017
Kara Leigh Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Forty years ago, President Jimmy Carter signed a law that literally changed the face of Appalachia.

The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) was intended to replace a state-to-state patchwork of rules for strip-mining with a uniform federal standard. Four decades later, however, environmentalists say the law has fallen far short of its potential.

“Massive destruction, massive explosives -- and only 300 feet away from someone’s home,” said Thom Kay, legislative associate at Appalachian Voices. “What is SMCRA doing if that’s still allowed?”