OSMRE (Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement) - http://www.osmre.gov - was established under The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) of 1977 - http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/30/25
This clip is from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaUPOI... (23 minutes) A Page In Time - Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement 1996 - Publication VID-009 - A video describing how the Surface Mining Law is implemented.
Optimism on Strip-Mine Law
On the first anniversary of the Federal strip-mining law, there is hope that voluntary commitments by the top coal companies will help set the pace for compliance with the controversial environmental legislation.
By Ben A. Franklin, Special to The New York Times, August 5, 1978
But the conviction is growing that the bitterly controversial strip-mining law enacted a year ago to regulate how the earth is torn up and replaced to minimize environmental disruption stands a fair chance of working.
In the agency assigned to administer the law, the Interior Department's new Office of Surface Mining, the reasons cited include the voluntary commitment of top executives of two big Appalachian strippers, the Pittson Company and the Falcon Coal Company, to work toward a pace-setting model of compliance in the Eastern mountain region where the enforcement problems of the office are the fiercest.
Although the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, one of the decades's major environmental measures, became law August 3, 1977, and became effective last May, the surface-mining office was held to bare skeleton of a staff borrowed from other agencies for seven months. Its first appropriation was tied up in Congress from August 1977 to last March . [The initial 28 federal inspectors were not hired until 4/9/1978; provision of the law became effective on 2/2/1978, on new coal mining operations.]
So the agency's staff is still short-handed. Environmental regulations that are the cutting edge of the law are months late in publication. And of the 200 Federal strip-mine inspectors authorized, only 61 are on board. [More than half of these still being trained and not yet authorized to do inspections.]
One small striper in Ohio who failed during a two-week grace period to react correctly to a routine Federal mine inspector's citation for lack of required mine roadway signs -- in effect the mine had been given a "traffic ticket" or warning -- has learned the consequences of "willful failure to comply": a mine closure order and a $750-a-day fine that may total $1500. The fine is mandatory under the law.
As of last week, strip-mine operators were still learning. In 337 Federal inspections since May 4,  there have been 97 notices of violations or warnings and 33 cessation orders or closures for flagrant disregard -- a noncompliance rate of 38 percent.
COAL SURFACE MINING AND RECLAMATION: An Environmental and Economic Assessment of Alternatives (U.S. Senate report, March 1973) http://groups.google.com/group/bob-mooney/web/1973-senate-report
Investigation: Enforcement of Strip Mining Laws, 1975
http://groups.google.com/group/bob-mooney/web/cspi-enforcement-of-strip-mining-laws-1975 (Excerpt from an editorial in The Washington Post, 1/8/1976)
Because inspectors are responsible for so many operations, many sites are rarely visited. Inspections are conducted as quick surveys instead of thorough investigations...As a result of political appointments and poor field training programs, inspectors often lack the necessary technical skills for detecting violations. When an inspector is highly skilled, mining interests often lure him away with a 200 or 300 percent salary increase. Many blatant violations are never reported to the state central enforcement office. A wide variety of industry favors are available to cooperative inspectors. On the other hand, some diligent inspectors have encountered personal threats and beatings.
The study has created controversy in the coalfields as could have been predicted; any suggestion that coal companies are something less than public-spirited citizens rushing to save America in the energy crisis is sure to be met in some quarters with hostile criticism. It is significant, though, that soon after the study's appearance, Kentucky's highest-ranking strip mine official was fired. In Washington, Rep. John Seiberling (D-Ohio) believes that "this study gives us the ammunition to write effective legislation." That may well be needed, considering that this year's  effort to get strip mining provisions added onto another bill have almost been spent. If anything, the documentation of coalfield abuses strengthens the case for strong federal controls.
OSMRE in its early years -- Interivew with regional director Ed Imhoff, 1980