Bootleggers and Baptists in the Passage of Federal Surface Mining Law

  • Jessi L. TroyanEmail author
Part of the Studies in Public Choice book series (SIPC, volume 39)


This chapter explores the origins of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 and the manner in which it was ultimately implemented through the economics of regulation, and more specifically a Baptists and bootleggers framework. I argue that a coalition of strange bedfellows involving eastern environmentalists, the United Mine Workers Union, and western coal interests coalesced to raise the cost of mining coal through surface extraction methods through the key SMCRA provision to restore the land to “approximate original contour,” or in less technical terms—rebuild the mountain. An optimal storm of natural conditions such as coal quality and topography combined with policy imperatives surrounding the energy crises of the 1970s, the growing environmentalism movement, increased production and demand for western coal, and the consequences of other environmental regulation in that era allowed for the coalition to take hold.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cardinal Institute for West Virginia PolicyCharlestonUSA

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