Surface Mining & Reclamation

Protecting public health and safety, the environment and Texas' natural resources.

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Surface Mining & Reclamation ANNOUNCEMENTS

NOTICE TO OPERATORS: Tropical Storm Nicholas

September 13, 2021

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is tracking Tropical Storm Nicolas in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm is expected to bring heavy rain and flooding along the Texas coast. Six to ten inches of rain is expected from Matagorda Bay to Port Arthur, with locally higher amounts of up to 15 inches possible for Galveston and Texas City. Tropical storm force wind, one-minute sustained wind of 39 mph or greater, has the highest probability from Freeport to Matagorda Bay. The NHC is forecasting winds of approximately 70 mph when Nicholas makes landfall in the Matagorda Bay area. The storm is expected to make landfall late tonight and move just east of Austin by Tuesday afternoon, with heavier rain east of I-35. The storm center is expected to be east of Texas by Wednesday morning.

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) advises all operators under the RRC’s jurisdiction in areas of potential impact to take the following actions: 

  • Monitor local, state and national weather reports for updates on potential severe weather impacts, including the National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center and Texas Division of Emergency Management;
  • Heed all watches, warnings, and orders issued by local emergency officials;
  • Secure all personnel, equipment, and facilities to prevent injury or damage; and,
  • Monitor operations for potential impacts, as safety permits. 

To view the full notice, visit the RRC website.

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Surface Mining Overview

Printable Overview

What we do

One of the state's most abundant energy resources is a form of soft coal called lignite. Many lignite deposits lie close to the surface, easily reached with modern mining technology. Texas is the largest consumer of coal in the United States and in 2015 was the seventh largest coal-producing state.In 1975, the Texas Legislature gave the Railroad Commission jurisdiction to regulate surface mining for coal and uranium. Companies mining coal/lignite in Texas must have a Commission permit and post a bond for each site they operate in the state. The goal of the coal mining regulations is that the mined land is returned to a condition that is as good as, or better than, it was before mining. Division field personnel make, at a minimum, monthly visits to mine sites, checking for compliance with coal mining regulations.

No surface mining for uranium is currently conducted but uranium exploration continues to be conducted for in situ uranium mining operations and is administered by the Surface Mining and Reclamation Division. (In situ uranium mining is regulated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality). Active uranium exploration sites are inspected monthly.

The Surface Mining and Reclamation Division also administers a program to reclaim dangerous or environmentally harmful abandoned mine sites that were mined prior to the implementation of the federal surface mining law in 1975 to ensure the safety of the public and protect the environment by eliminating these hazardous abandoned mines throughout the state.

The Surface Mining & Reclamation Division oversees coal exploration, mining and reclamation activities in Texas. In our regulatory role we ensure operators follow Commission rules and regulations established to protect public health and safety, the environment and natural resources.