Numerous states, like Illinois, for many years have had laws regulating the reclamation process in order to minimize surface mining's impact on the environment. In 1977, Congress passed a law that sets minimum reclamation standards for both surface and underground operations, particularly regarding the effects on the surface from mining.
Over the years, coal companies have devised many ways of effectively reclaiming surface-mined areas. A decision on the matter of procedure - whether to restore the acreage for farming, forests, recreation areas, orchards or housing developments - depends on soil and weather conditions, general terrain and, of course, the needs of any nearby community.
Coal firms in Illinois also have done their best through land reclamation programs to offset the loss or destruction of wetlands.
Because of reclamation, mined lands in Illinois continue to be restored to their original use capabilities or, in some instances, to an even more productive level than that which existed prior to mining.