Use authorizations for solid mineral activities are controlled according to the type of mineral involved, and by the type of Federal ownership on which they are found. Solid minerals can be broken into four types: (1) coal, (2) leasable minerals, (3) hardrock (locatable) minerals, and (4) common variety materials. Eastern States does not have any geothermal resources or oil shale resources.
Federal land and mineral ownership is divided into two types: Public Domain and acquired. Public Domain lands have always been in Federal ownership, while acquired lands were purchased by the government from private individuals. On Public Domain lands, where Eastern States has jurisdiction over both the surface and the mineral rights, the lands are managed according to multiple-use concepts. On acquired lands, where Eastern States governs the mineral rights but not the surface, we work closely with the surface manager/owner (most often, the U.S. Forest Service) to encourage access to and development of the minerals. In either case, Eastern States carries out the planned management, conservation, and development of its solid mineral resources in an environmentally safe and economically sound manner, so that current and future benefits for the public interest will be realized.
Before deciding whether to lease a particular parcel for mining, Eastern States conducts an environmental analysis. If the area is deemed suitable and it is leased, we then review the proposed mine plan before any mining can begin. Once development has begun, Eastern States inspects the operation of the mine to make sure that Federal regulations and lease terms are being followed. This oversight also applies to proper abandonment of the mine. In the case of coal, the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement has reclamation responsibility. The mine operator is required to comply with all Federal and state laws and regulations, especially those that pertain to the protection of air, water, and natural resources, and includes those involving mine safety and employee health. The overall goal is to allow for the development of minerals and their contribution to the nation's economy in such a manner that other important resources are protected.