Two main statutes in the United States govern the processes for treating and discharging water that has been affected by coal mining: the Clean Water Act (CWA) 1 and the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). 2 The CWA governs the discharge of that water from a point source into waters of the United States, 3 and the SMCRA governs the process of surface mining and treating the water that comes into contact with the disturbed area. 4
In 1984, the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources consolidated the surface mine and water protection programs into one scheme for coal mining facilities.5 This paper argues that the consolidation of these two regulatory programs brought forth a storm of negative effects the state is still facing today. Specifically, this paper argues that the switch caused an inconsistency in application of the regulations across industries and an inconsistency in interpretation between federal and state governments.