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America’s reentry into the Coal Age has been one of the major consequences of the Mideast oil-producing nations’ discovery of their collective marketing power, and in this new emphasis on coal the United States is not alone. Like the United States, many industrialized nations with domestic coal reserves had allowed their coal industries to languish under the influence of low-priced, petroleum based energy economy and are now hastening to strengthen their coal production. Different nations approach the regulation of their resurgent coal industries in varying ways, however, and these differences can be instructive to American observers, particularly as they relate to land use and environmental control. This article is a preliminary report of a short-term, on-site study of coal mining in the United States, the United Kingdom, and West Germany. It is not a comprehensive, comparative analysis of legal in these three countries. Material for the article was gathered by personal observation of mining operations in the countries surveyed, informal interviews with administrators, and a review of relevant statutes and regulations. This mix of reportorial and analytical material will serve, it is hoped, as a useful exposition of the administrative structures that regulate coal mining in Great Britain and West Germany, for Europe’s coal mining achievements clearly deserve the further attention of private and public participants in the American coal mining industry.


Also appears in Environment Law Review 8 (1977): 101-134.