§ 45.1-180.2. Legislative findings; declaration of policy.
A. The General Assembly finds that the mining of minerals within the Commonwealth is an activity that makes a contribution to the standard of living of the citizens of the Commonwealth; and that it is in the public interest to insure the availability and orderly development of mineral resources now and in the future. Uncontrolled mining of such minerals and unreclaimed land can adversely affect the environment through the destruction of vegetative cover, the disruption of drainage patterns, the increased siltation and sedimentation of streams as well as other forms of pollution, and the temporary and, in some circumstances, permanent destruction of scenic beauty and wildlife habitats. The General Assembly further finds that it is often not practicable to extract minerals without disturbing the surface of the earth and producing waste materials, and that the very character of certain surface mining operations precludes complete restoration of the land to its original contour; but that it is essential to conduct mining in such a way as to minimize its effects on the environment.
B. The General Assembly recognizes that there are wide variations in the circumstances and conditions surrounding and arising out of the mining of minerals and that rehabilitation and conservation of land affected by mining of minerals will be assured only through proper planning, proper use of appropriate methods of mining, consideration of the impact of mining upon the environment as well as the land use of surrounding areas, and through the incorporation and use of control techniques and reclamation actions as an integral and simultaneous part of the mining of minerals.
C. The General Assembly declares that it is in the public interest and shall be the policy of the Commonwealth to require and encourage the proper control of mining of minerals so as to protect the public health, safety and welfare consistent with the protection of physical property and with maximum employment and the economic well-being of the Commonwealth through good industry and sound conservation practices, and to require and encourage thorough operations and reclamation planning, consideration of the surrounding environment, and incorporation of control techniques and reclamation actions in mining operations insofar as economically and physically practicable to assure such proper control of mining. To these ends, the Director is mandated to enforce this chapter and to adopt whatever regulations are found necessary to accomplish the provisions of this chapter.
D. The General Assembly by this chapter intends to exercise the police power of this Commonwealth in a coordinated statewide program to aid in the protection of wildlife, in restoring these lands to productive purposes and to control present and future problems associated with mining resources and the reclamation of disturbed lands to the end that mining activities shall be regulated in a manner that will effectuate the purpose of this chapter.
E. Nothing in this chapter is intended, nor shall be construed, to limit, impair, abridge, create, enlarge or otherwise affect, substantively or procedurally, the right or rights of any person who is a party to any dispute involving property rights, or the right of any person to damages or other relief on account of injury to persons or property due to mining activities regulated by this chapter and to maintain any action or other appropriate procedure therefor; nor to affect the powers of the Commonwealth to initiate, prosecute and maintain actions to abate public nuisances.
1977, c. 312; 1984, c. 590.