Due to the adverse publicity from surface subsidence, legislation has been introduced in the various states to make mining companies legally responsible for damages to surface structures, and this came in for opening attention. Subsidence- control legislation is within the jurisdiction of the state legislatures, and therefore differences are great between states. Two bills have been introduced in Pennsylvania which would provide for compensation and permit the inspection of mines by local authorities, with powers to enforce their recommendations. However, it is believed that there is no legal basis for such legislation and, even if the bills are passed, they stand a chance to be declared unconstitutional and invalidated. Property deeds explicitly indicate the reserve of mineral rights by mining companies, and the homeowner who sustains surface damage is in a poor legal position to sue.
It is known that subsidence compensation is paid in many states, but it was not clarified whether this was a legal requirement or whether mining companies pursued a policy of compensation to promote better public relations. It was pointed out that the oil companies in Texas have traditionally paid for subsidence damages. Water injection is employed in the Wilmington field in California as oil is produced to minimize or prevent subsidence. A bill was recently introduced in Michigan which would have made companies responsible for surface subsidence, but it was defeated. It was pointed out that the Michigan mining companies have been far-sighted enough to purchase the surface as well as the mineral rights. Legislation within the United States was sharply contrasted with that in Europe where mining companies are legally obligated for all damages, and professional control and assessment commissions are firmly established.