Skip to Content

Proposed Rule

Maryland Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM), Interior.

ACTION:

Proposed rule; public comment period and opportunity for public hearing.

SUMMARY:

OSM is announcing receipt of a proposed amendment to the Maryland abandoned mine land reclamation program (Maryland program) under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA). The proposed amendment consists of a modification to the definition of the term “Government-Financed Construction” at Code of Maryland Regulation (COMAR) 26.20.12.02 and the addition of new section .04 to COMAR 26.20.12. The amendment is intended to revise the Maryland program to be consistent with the corresponding federal regulations.

DATES:

If you submit written comments, they must be received by 4 p.m. (local time), September 13, 2000. If requested, Start Printed Page 49525a public hearing on the proposed amendment will be held on September 8, 2000. Requests to speak at the hearing must be received by 4 p.m. (local time), on August 29, 2000.

ADDRESSES:

Mail or hand-deliver your written comments and requests to speak at the hearing to the Pittsburgh Oversight and Inspection Office, at the address listed below.

You may review copies of the Maryland program, the proposed amendment, a listing of any scheduled public hearings, and all written comments received in response to this document at the addresses listed below during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. You may receive one free copy of the proposed amendment by contacting OSM's Pittsburgh Oversight and Inspection Office.

George Rieger, Manager, Pittsburgh Oversight and Inspection Office, OSM, Appalachian Regional Coordinating Center, 3 Parkway Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15220.

Maryland Bureau of Mines, 160 South Water Street, Frostburg, Maryland, 21532, Telephone: (301) 689-4136.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

George Rieger, Manager, Pittsburgh Oversight and Inspection Office, Telephone: (412) 937-2153.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background on the Maryland Program

On February 18, 1982, the Secretary of the Interior approved the Maryland program. You can find background information on the Maryland program, including the Secretary's findings, the disposition of comments, and the conditions of approval in the February 18, 1982, Federal Register (47 FR 7214). You can find subsequent actions concerning the conditions of approval and program amendments at 30 CFR 920.12, 920.15, and 920.16.

II. Description of the Proposed Amendment

By letter dated July 10, 2000, (Administrative Record No. MD-582-00), Maryland submitted a proposed amendment to its program at COMAR 26.20.12. Maryland is proposing these changes to make its program as effective as the federal regulations at 30 CFR 707.5, 707.10, 874.10, and 874.17. These sections of the federal regulations describe procedures for financing abandoned mine land reclamation projects that involve the incidental extraction of coal. Maryland is proposing to change the definition of Government-Financed Construction at COMAR 26.20.12.02 B (1)(a) by adding the phrase, “Funding at less than 50 percent may qualify if the construction is undertaken as an approved reclamation project under Environment Article, Title 15, Subtitle 11 Annotated Code of Maryland and 30 CFR Subchapter R.”

Maryland is also proposing to change COMAR 26.20.12.by adding section .04 titled, “Government Funded Reclamation Projects.” Subsection A of section .04 describes items to be taken into consideration when the Bureau contemplates completing an abandoned mine land reclamation project as government financed construction when the level of funding will be less than 50 percent of the total cost because of planned coal extraction. These considerations include:

(1) The likelihood of nearby or adjacent mining activities creating new environmental problems or adversely affecting existing environmental problems at the site,

(2) The likelihood of reclamation activities at the site adversely affecting nearby or adjacent mining activities, and,

(3) The likelihood of the coal being mined under a permit issued in accordance with Environment Article, Title 15, Subtitle 5, Annotated Code of Maryland.

Subsection B of COMAR 26.20.12.04 describes the information to be taken into account when determining the likelihood of the coal being mined under a permit issued in accordance with Environment Article, Title 15, Subtitle 5, Annotated Code of Maryland. The Bureau is to take into account available information such as:

(1) Coal reserves from existing mine maps or other sources,

(2) Existing environmental conditions,

(3) All prior mining activity on or adjacent to the site,

(4) Current and historic coal production in the area, and

(5) Any known or anticipated interest in the mining site.

Subsection C of COMAR 26.20.12.04 describes the steps the Bureau must take to proceed with the reclamation project after making the determination under Subsection A. The Bureau shall:

(1) Determine the limits on any coal refuse, coal waste, or other coal products which may be extracted under this regulation, and

(2) Delineate the boundaries of the abandoned mine land reclamation project.

Subsection D of COMAR 26.20.12.04 requires the Bureau to include documentation in the abandoned mine land project file for the:

(1) Determinations made under Subsections A and C of this regulation,

(2) Information taken into account in making the determinations, and

(3) Names of the persons making the determinations.

Subsection E of COMAR 26.20.12.04 provides that for each abandoned mine land reclamation project to be approved under this regulation, the Bureau shall:

(1) Characterize the site in terms of mine drainage, active slides, and slide prone areas, erosion and sedimentation, vegetation, toxic materials, and hydrologic balance,

(2) Ensure that the reclamation project is conducted in accordance with the provisions of Environment Article, Title 15, Subtitle 11, Annotate Code of Maryland and 30 CFR Subchapter R,

(3) Develop specific site reclamation requirements including performance bonds, when appropriate, in accordance with State procedures, and

(4) Require the contractor conducting the reclamation to provide, prior to the time the reclamation project begins, applicable documents that clearly authorize the extraction of coal and payments of royalties.

Subsection F of COMAR 26.20.12.04 provides that the Bureau shall require a reclamation contractor who extracts coal beyond the limits of the incidental coal specified in § C of this regulation to obtain a permit for the coal in accordance with Environment Article, Title 15, Subtitle 5, Annotated Code of Maryland.

III. Public Comment Procedures

In accordance with the provisions of 30 CFR 732.17(h), OSM is seeking comments on whether the proposed amendment satisfies the applicable program approval criteria of 30 CFR 732.15. If the amendment is deemed adequate, it will become part of the Maryland program.

Written Comments: If you submit written or electronic comments on the proposed rule during the 30-day comment period, they should be specific, should be confined to issues pertinent to the notice, and should explain the reason for your recommendation(s). We may not be able to consider or include in the Administrative Record comments delivered to an address other than the one listed above (see ADDRESSES).

Electronic Comments: Please submit Internet comments as an ASCII, WordPerfect, or Word file avoiding the use of special characters and any form of encryption. Please also include “Attn: SPATS NO. MD-047-FOR” and your name and return address in your Internet message. If you do not receive Start Printed Page 49526a confirmation that we have received your Internet message, contact the Pittsburgh Oversight and Inspection Office at (412) 937-2153.

Availability of Comments: Our practice is to make comments, including names and home addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular business hours at the OSM Administrative Record Room (see ADDRESSES). Individual respondents may request that we withhold their home address from the rulemaking record, which we will honor to the extent allowable by law. There also may be circumstances in which we would withhold from the rulemaking record a respondent's identity, as allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold your name and/or address, you must state this prominently at the beginning of your comment. However, we will not consider anonymous comments. We will make all submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety.

Public Hearing: If you wish to speak at the public hearing, you should contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by 4 p.m. (local time), on August 29, 2000. The location and time of the hearing will be arranged with those persons requesting the hearing. If no one requests an opportunity to speak at the public hearing, the hearing will not be held.

To assist the transcriber and ensure an accurate record, we request, if possible, that each person who testifies at a public hearing provide us with a written copy of his or her testimony. The public hearing will continue on the specified date until all persons scheduled to speak have been heard. If you are in the audience and have not been scheduled to speak and wish to do so, you will be allowed to speak after those who have been scheduled. We will end the hearing after all persons scheduled to speak and persons present in the audience who wish to speak have been heard.

Any disabled individual who has need for a special accommodation to attend a public hearing should contact the individual listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

Public Meeting: If only one person requests an opportunity to speak at a hearing, a public meeting, rather than a public hearing, may be held. If you wish to meet with OSM representatives to discuss the proposed amendment, you may request a meeting by contacting the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. All such meetings will be open to the public and, if possible, notices of meetings will be posted at the locations listed under ADDRESSES. A written summary of each meeting will be made a part of the Administrative Record.

Procedural Determinations

Executive Order 12866—Regulatory Planning and Review

This rule is exempted from review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866.

Executive Order 12630—Takings

This rule does not have takings implications. This determination is based on the analysis performed for the counterpart federal regulation.

Executive Order 13132—Federalism

This rule does not have federalism implications. SMCRA delineates the roles of the federal and state governments with regard to the regulation of surface coal mining and reclamation operations. One of the purposes of SMCRA is to “establish a nationwide program to protect society and the environment from the adverse effects of surface coal mining operations.” Section 503(a)(1) of SMCRA requires that state laws regulating surface coal mining and reclamation operations be “in accordance with” the requirements of SMCRA, and section 503(a)(7) requires that state programs contain rules and regulations “consistent with” regulations issued by the Secretary pursuant to SMCRA.

Executive Order 12988—Civil Justice Reform

The Department of the Interior has conducted the reviews required by section 3 of Executive Order 12988 and has determined that, to the extent allowed by law, this rule meets the applicable standards of subsections (a) and (b) of that section. However, these standards are not applicable to the actual language of state regulatory programs and program amendments since each such program is drafted and promulgated by a specific state, not by OSM. Under sections 503 and 505 of SMCRA (30 U.S.C. 1253 and 1255) and 30 CFR 730.11, 732.15, and 732.17(h)(10), decisions on proposed state regulatory programs and program amendments submitted by the states must be based solely on a determination of whether the submittal is consistent with SMCRA and its implementing federal regulations and whether the other requirements of 30 CFR Parts 730, 731, and 732 have been met.

National Environmental Policy Act

Section 702(d) of SMCRA (30 U.S.C. 1292(d)) provides that a decision on a proposed state regulatory program provision does not constitute a major federal action within the meaning of section 102(2)(C) of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4332(2)(C)). A determination has been made that such decisions are categorically excluded from the NEPA process (516 DM 8.4.A).

Paperwork Reduction Act

This rule does not contain information collection requirements that require approval by the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3507 et seq.).

Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Department of the Interior has determined that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). The state submittal which is the subject of this rule is based upon counterpart federal regulations for which an economic analysis was prepared and certification made that such regulations would not have a significant economic effect upon a substantial number of small entities. Accordingly, this rule will ensure that existing requirements previously promulgated by OSM will be implemented by the state. In making the determination as to whether this rule would have a significant economic impact, the Department relied upon the data and assumptions for the counterpart federal regulation.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. This rule:

a. Does not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million.

b. Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, federal, state, or local government agencies, or geographic regions.

c. Does not have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of U.S. based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises.

This determination is based upon the fact that the state submittal which is the subject of this rule is based upon counterpart federal regulations for which an analysis was prepared and a determination made that the federal Start Printed Page 49527regulation was not considered a major rule.

Unfunded Mandates

This rule will not impose a cost of $100 million or more in any given year on any governmental entity or the private sector.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 30 CFR Part 920

End List of Subjects Start Signature

Dated: August 4, 2000.

Allen D. Klein,

Regional Director, Appalachian Regional Coordinating Center.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 00-20549 Filed 8-11-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4310-05-P