(a) The Alabama Legislature has found and determined the following:
(1) A 1991 United States Department of the Interior audit report warned that the Non-Fuel Minerals Mining Law of Alabama is outdated and that mine operators are deliberately laying waste to mined land rather than restoring it.
(2) The standards for coal mining reclamation have improved dramatically over the last 25 years.
(3) The citizens of Alabama are endangered by unreclaimed highwalls, water impoundments, and open pits.
(b) In view of these findings, the Legislature deems it necessary to deny the issuance of surface mine permits to operators who have demonstrated a pattern of willfully violating the mining law, and to improve environmental controls by requiring that highwalls be backfilled after mining.