Greens, GOP clash over mine oversight, cleanup funding

By Hannah Northey | 03/12/2024 06:43 AM EDT

The president’s fiscal 2025 budget seeks to undo cuts to the nation’s top coal mine regulator.

Interior Department.

President Joe Biden wants to increase funding for the Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. Francis Chung/POLITICO

Republicans and environmental groups are in a tug of war over the Interior Department’s coal mine oversight bureau.

Montana GOP lawmakers are accusing the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, or OSMRE, of slow-walking environmental reviews for new and expanding mining projects in their state.

But green groups argue that if lawmakers want faster permits, Congress needs to dole out money for more staff and resources instead of slashing the agency’s budget.


“[OSMRE is] chronically underfunded and understaffed. … Let’s give OSMRE more money. They can hire more people, they can do more thorough and faster permit reviews,” said Erin Savage, a senior manager for the group Appalachian Voices.