She said that OSM is working closely with other federal agencies on a two-year study of mountaintop removal. The study was prompted by a citizen lawsuit against the Corps and the state Division of Environmental Protection. OSM was not a party to the suit.
Rahall said, "For her part, Director Karpan inherited the problems which were made public last year.
"It is now incumbent upon her to display the type of leadership necessary to swiftly correct deficiencies in the mountaintop removal mining regulatory program," Rahall said.
"This is no laughing matter in the hills and hollows of West Virginia," Rahall said. "While the regulatory program remains unsettled, citizens' lives and homes are being disrupted, miners face the possibility of layoff, and the economy in places like Logan, Mingo and Boone counties which is so dependent on coal swings in the balance."
Rahall said that it is time for the post-mining development of land flattened by mountaintop removal to be required by regulators, as the law envisioned.
"Our dream when enacting [SMCRA] was to leave people in the coalfields with viable economic development opportunities once the coal ran out as a trade-off for allowing a variance for mountaintop removal mining," he said.
"SMCRA was more than an environmental law," said Rahall, who served on the conference committee that wrote the final version of the act. "It is also social legislation."