Attorney General Todd Rokita is co-leading a multistate lawsuit against U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s invasive federal encroachment efforts that would literally undermine state regulatory authority over surface coal mining and reclamation. 

As Congress recognized in the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, coal mining is essential for the health of this nation’s energy industry, economy and national security. The act gives Indiana and other states with federally approved programs exclusive jurisdiction over most aspects of surface coal mining and reclamation.  

The new rule overturns the premise of the act by allowing the federal government to second-guess decisions that Congress entrusted to states’ regulators, which have superior expertise and knowledge about local coal mining operations. It also threatens to bog down coal mining operations by miring states in federal red tape.     

“Simply put, this new rule is unlawful,” Attorney General Rokita said. “It intrudes on Indiana’s rightful authority under the American system of federalism. We’re suing to uphold the proper balance of power between the individual states and the federal government and to prevent another unjustified assault by the Biden administration on coal.” 

The State of Indiana has a strong record in providing proper oversight of surface coal mining and reclamation operations, Attorney General Rokita noted, running programs that have won national and regional awards. 

Federal officials themselves, evaluating Indiana programs in 2023, stated the Indiana Department of Natural Resources “administers its program in a way that effectively protects citizens and the environment from adverse impacts resulting from surface coal mining activities.”