The Washington Post
Let’s not forget Carter’s contribution to the environment
The Feb. 23 news article “Jimmy Carter, environmental patron” had no mention of the former president’s most important achievement: his support of the 1977 Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.
Surface mining was the most contentious environmental issue of the decade. The coal lobby fought congressional bills tooth and tong, claiming their solutions would be too costly and cripple coal production, which would irreparably damage electricity generation. Because of those concerns, both Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford vetoed bills passed by wide margins in both the
Senate and House of Representatives. The vetoes were sustained.
Campaigning in Appalachia in 1976, Carter pledged that he would sign the strip-mining bill, as well as mine safety legislation pending in Congress. He did both in August 1977. The concerns of the coal industry proved to be unfounded, and since 1977 hundreds of thousands of acres of coal-mined land throughout the country have been restored to productive post-mining use, from agricultural to wildlife purposes. This law proved to be a true success story.