A Public Choice Exploration of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act

35 Pages Posted: 5 May 2017

See all articles by Ryan Yonk

Ryan Yonk

North Dakota State University - NDSU Center for the Study of Public Choice and Private Enterprise

Arthur R. Wardle

Utah State University - Department of Economics and Finance

Josh Smith

Utah State University

Date Written: May 1, 2017

Abstract

Recent bankruptcies in the coal industry have stoked concerns regarding the efficacy of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA). We review the history of SMCRA through a public choice lens focusing on bonding and the Abandoned Mine Land fund (AML). Overall, SMCRA can be considered a success, but important problems persist that demand attention. For example, bond valuation is improperly handled and the AML is used for political purposes by state governments. We propose these problems could be mitigated with binding guidelines for bond release and by putting valuation in the hands of independent third parties.

Keywords: Reclamation, Mining, Coal, SMCRA, AML, Bonds, Public Choice, Bureaucracy

JEL Classification: Q38, Q48, K20, K32

Suggested Citation

Yonk, Ryan and Wardle, Arthur R. and Smith, Joshua, A Public Choice Exploration of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (May 1, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2962741 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2962741

Ryan Yonk

North Dakota State University - NDSU Center for the Study of Public Choice and Private Enterprise ( email )

811 2nd Ave N.
Fargo, ND 58102
United States

Arthur R. Wardle (Contact Author)

Utah State University - Department of Economics and Finance ( email )

Logan, UT 84322-1400
United States

Joshua Smith

Utah State University ( email )

Logan, UT 84322
United States

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