Section 3. The department shall be charged with duties of protecting the citizens and environment of the commonwealth from significant damage or public health hazard that may occur because of the operation of coal mines in the commonwealth. The department shall adopt rules and regulations which shall provide that any coal mining or extraction of coal shall be conducted in a manner that will not significantly damage the environment or the area of land affected by a mining operation. Consistent with the provisions of this chapter, the powers and duties of the commissioner shall include, but not be limited to, the granting of licenses to mine coal, the protection of public health and quality of the environment and the overseeing of all reclamation procedures.
The commissioner shall protect the rights of all landowners and abutters of mined or affected areas or those who would have a legal interest in the land. The commissioner shall further provide for public announcement and information concerning the nature and conduct of any such mining operations and shall provide procedures by which all land or affected areas are rehabilitated to a condition at least fully capable of supporting all practicable uses which it was capable of supporting prior to such operations, or equal or better uses that can reasonably be attained.