Dear Mr. President: (Dear Mr. Speaker:)
In accordance with the provisions of Public Law 89-4, the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965, I am transmitting to the Congress the report of the Secretary of the Interior resulting from the National Study of Strip and Surface Mining.
The report shows that much of the land which has been surface mined in the United States is now causing damage to our environment.
That damage is seen in water pollution, soil erosion, flooding, and safety hazards. Unsightly and wasteful as it is, it can be corrected by varying types of land treatment actions. Such a program is currently under development.
The report also indicates that present surface mining practices can and must be improved. Each year some 150,000 additional acres are being surface mined. By 1980, this annual increment will increase to 280,000 acres. Unless we develop these lands wisely, some of this freshly-mined land may cause additional environmental damage. The report contains constructive suggestions as to what better practices might be implemented with current surface mining. It points out that such preventive measures are usually only a fraction as costly as subsequent land treatment.
The Federal Government must put its own house in order--so that its land stewardship will be an example to others.
To that end, I am asking that all Federal agencies immediately review their policies dealing with surface mining on lands under their jurisdiction, and with contracts for the procurement of surface mined mineral commodities and fuels. The aim is to develop policies to assure, insofar as is now possible, that effective controls are instituted over surface-damaging mineral exploration and extraction, and that reasonable land restoration provisions are included. I am directing the Secretary of the Interior to submit an evaluation to me on the results of this review by September 30.
This report is a major step forward in our understanding of the problems caused by surface mining. It outlines many constructive actions that can be taken by mining operators, by the States, and by the Federal Government. I believe it warrants careful study and consideration by all of these parties in order to minimize any future damage to our environment.
To that end I am asking the Secretary of the Interior to send a copy of this report to each State Governor. I am asking our own agencies to cooperate with the mining industry to develop and implement the best ideas in this report. I will be discussing these plans and recommendations in future messages to the Congress.
LYNDON B. JOHNSON