In an early effort to control strip-mining, the General Assembly, citing its negative environmental effects, created a Strip Mining and Reclamation Commission as an independent agency of state government with broad authority to require strip miners to obtain permits based on applications detailing location, size, boundaries, and ownership of the sites and to "prepare and carry out a reclamation plan" for the areas affected. Operators were also required to pay fees of fifty dollars an acre and to post bonds ranging from one hundred dollars to two hundred and fifty dollars an acre. Noncompliance would result in revocation of the permit and forfeiture of the bond. Operators engaging in strip-mining in violation of the act would be fined "not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five thousand dollars for each offense and each day upon which a violation occurs or continues shall constitute a separate offense."
Steam shovel loads coal into railroad cars at a Western Colliers Coal Company stripping operation in Ilsley, Kentucky, ca. 1920. Caterpillar tracks in the left foreground "show where the coal has been operated." W. R. Jillson Photographs Collection, Kentucky Historical Society Collections.