West Virginia Law Review

Document Type



This article will cover to a limited extent the vocabulary and physical process of strip mining, and its cost to society and to people individually through direct damage to people, property, and the public environment. But the main purpose of this article is to, (1) explain the basic approach of the 1971 Surface Mining and Reclamation Act passed by the West Virginia Legislature, (2) identify the legal questions raised by the Act, and (3) suggest interpretations and applications of the Code language that would answer some of these questions. This article will not discuss several major questions arising under the 1971 Act, such as the constitutionality of the application of the Act to existing strip mining operations,3 the constitutionality of some of the limitations on permit areas contained in the Act, and the constitutionality of the moratorium on the issuance of new strip mining permits in twenty-two West Virginia counties. This article will not discuss the primary legal question running throughout the public debate on strip mining, i.e., whether the public can constitutionally abolish strip mining without compensating the owners of mineral rights for the coal that they cannot recover by other mining methods.



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