Biden official rebuffs Republicans on mine cleanups, permits

By Hannah Northey | 05/23/2024 06:24 AM EDT

The nation’s top coal mine regulator appeared before a House Natural Resources panel Wednesday.

Montana coal mine.

A view of Montana's Spring Creek coal mine in 2016. Mathew Brown/AP

A senior administration official on Wednesday defended the president’s fiscal 2025 budget request and fended off Republican accusations that she’s slow-walking environmental reviews of coal projects and failing to consult with states.

Sharon Buccino, principal deputy director for the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, told members of a House Natural Resources subcommittee that the president’s $304.7 million request for the coming fiscal year was appropriate given the agency’s obligations and the difficult job of overseeing a declining coal sector.

OSMRE, an office within the Interior Department, is in charge of making sure mine operators return land to pre-mining conditions. The agency also oversees reclamation of mines abandoned before passage of the 1977 Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.


Buccino noted the budget request, which seeks a $26 million increase from 2024 enacted levels, includes tens of millions of dollars for state regulators facing increasing costs as coal companies declare bankruptcy and saddle states with cleanup. The request includes $65 million for states in fiscal 2025, an increase of $2.6 million from enacted levels.