North Dakota has the strongest law in the United States on restoration of mined farmland, but the state Supreme Court’s recent Coal Lake ruling threatens to make it a dead letter.
The court upheld the Public Service Commission’s decision that recreation was a “higher and better” use for 86 acres of mined land than raising crops.
The coal companies think up these alternatives and so far the PSC has given its blessing to all of them – golf courses, dirt bike tracks, shooting ranges, waste disposal pits. Adding these to what’s considered a “higher and better” use exempts the coal company from meeting farm productivity standards. Continue reading