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Proposed Rule

West Virginia Regulatory Program

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Proposed rule; public comment period and opportunity for public hearing on proposed amendment.

SUMMARY:

We are announcing receipt of a proposed amendment to the West Virginia regulatory program (the West Virginia program) under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA or the Act). West Virginia proposes revisions to the Code of State Regulations (CSR) as authorized by Committee Substitute for House Bill 4193. The State is revising its program to be consistent with certain corresponding Federal requirements, and to include other amendments at its own initiative. The amendments include, among other things, new Start Printed Page 26341provisions to ensure reclamation and husbandry techniques that are conducive to the development of productive forestlands and wildlife habitat after mining.

DATES:

We will accept written comments on this amendment until 4 p.m. (local time), on June 11, 2004. If requested, we will hold a public hearing on the amendment on June 7, 2004. We will accept requests to speak at a hearing until 4 p.m. (local time), on May 27, 2004.

ADDRESSES:

You should mail, e-mail, or hand-deliver written comments and requests to speak at the hearing to Mr. Roger W. Calhoun, Director, Charleston Field Office at the address listed below.

You may review copies of the West Virginia program, this 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 amendment by contacting OSM's Charleston Field Office.

Mr. Roger W. Calhoun, Director, Charleston Field Office, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, 1027 Virginia Street, East, Charleston, West Virginia 25301, Telephone: (304) 347-7158. E-mail: chfo@osmre.gov.

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, 10 McJunkin Road, Nitro, West Virginia 25143, Telephone: (304) 759-0510.

In addition, you may review a copy of the amendment during regular business hours at the following locations: Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Morgantown Area Office, 75 High Street, Room 229, P.O. Box 886, Morgantown, West Virginia 26507, Telephone: (304) 291-4004. (By Appointment Only); Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Beckley Area Office, 323 Harper Park Drive, Suite 3, Beckley, West Virginia 25801, Telephone: (304) 255-5265.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mr. Roger W. Calhoun, Director, Charleston Field Office, Telephone: (304) 347-7158. Internet: chfo@osmre.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background on the West Virginia Program

II. Description of the Proposed Amendment

III. Public Comment Procedures

IV. Procedural Determinations

I. Background on the West Virginia Program

Section 503(a) of the Act permits a State to assume primacy for the regulation of surface coal mining and reclamation operations on non-Federal and non-Indian lands within its borders by demonstrating that its program includes, among other things, “* * * a State law which provides for the regulation of surface coal mining and reclamation operations in accordance with the requirements of the Act * * *; and rules and regulations consistent with regulations issued by the Secretary pursuant to the Act.” See 30 U.S.C. 1253(a)(1) and (7). On the basis of these criteria, the Secretary of the Interior conditionally approved the West Virginia program on January 21, 1981. You can find background information on the West Virginia program, including the Secretary's findings, the disposition of comments, and conditions of approval of the West Virginia program in the January 21, 1981, Federal Register (46 FR 5915). You can also find later actions concerning West Virginia's program and program amendments at 30 CFR 948.10, 948.12, 948.13, 948.15, and 948.16.

II. Description of the Proposed Amendment

By letter dated March 25, 2004 (Administrative Record Number WV-1389), the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) submitted an amendment to its program under SMCRA (30 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.). The amendment consists of Committee Substitute for House Bill 4193, which authorizes amendments to the West Virginia Surface Mining Reclamation Rules at CSR 38-2. Committee Substitute for House Bill 4193 passed the Legislature on March 12, 2004, and was signed by the Governor on April 5, 2004. West Virginia Code (W.Va. Code or WV Code) 64-3-1(g) specifically authorizes WVDEP to promulgate the revisions as legislative rules.

In its letter, the WVDEP stated that the rules at CSR 38-2 were amended to be consistent with the counterpart Federal regulations. In addition, the amendment adds new provisions concerning “Forestland” and “Wildlife” to ensure reclamation techniques and husbandry that are conducive to productive forestlands and wildlife habitats are followed. The WVDEP also included in its submittal, a memorandum from the West Virginia State Forester in which the State Forester endorsed the proposed rules and also provided comments on them.

The WVDEP also submitted Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 616, which was adopted by the Legislature on March 21, 2004. The Bill increased the membership of the Environmental Protection Advisory Council and established a new Quality Assurance Compliance Advisory Committee. Because this Bill was vetoed by the Governor on April 6, 2004, it is not being considered in this rulemaking.

The amendment submitted by WVDEP includes amendments to CSR 38-2-24 concerning the exemption for coal extraction incidental to the removal of other minerals. However, none of these provisions at CSR 38-2-24, which the State is proposing to amend, have been previously submitted to OSM for approval. Therefore, we are including CSR 38-2-24 (Administrative Record Number WV-1390) in its entirety, and we are requesting public comment on all of Section 24 (Item 10, below).

The full text of the program amendment is available for you to read at the locations listed above under ADDRESSES.

Specifically, West Virginia proposes the following amendments.

1. CSR 38-2-3.12.a.1. Subsidence Control Plan

This provision is amended by changing a term related to the scale of the topographic map that must be submitted with the subsidence control plan. In the first sentence, the word “less” is deleted and replaced by the word “more.” In the last sentence, the word “less” is deleted and replaced by the word “larger.”

2. CSR 38-2-7.6. Forest Land

This subsection is new and provides as follows.

7.6 Forest Land

7.6.a. The Secretary may authorize forest land as a postmining land use only if the following conditions have been met: Provided, however; this subsection only applies to AOC mining operations that propose to utilize auger, area, mountain top and contour methods of mining. Proposed underground mining, coal preparation facilities, coal refuse disposal, haulroads and their related incidental facilities are not subject to the provisions of this subsection but must comply with all other applicable sections of this rule.

7.6.b. Planting Plan

7.6.b.1. A. West Virginia registered professional forester shall develop a planting plan for the permitted area that meets the requirements of the West Virginia Surface Coal Mining and Reclamation Act. This plan shall be made a part of the mining permit application. The plans shall be in sufficient detail to demonstrate that the requirements of forestland use can be met. The minimum contents of the plan shall be as follows:

7.6.b.1.A.1. A premining native soils map and brief description of each soil mapping unit to include at a minimum: Areal extent expressed in acres, total depth and volume to bedrock, soil horizons, including the O, A, E, B, and C horizon depths, soil texture, structure, color, reaction, bedrock type, and Start Printed Page 26342a site index for northern red oak. A site index for white oak for each soil mapping unit should also be provided if available. A weighted, average site index for northern red oak, based on acreage per soil mapping unit, shall be provided for the permitted area.

7.6.b.1.A.2. A surface preparation plan that includes a description of the methods for replacing and grading the soil and other soil substitutes and their preparation for seeding and tree planting.

7.6.b.1.A.3. Liming and fertilizer plans.

7.6.b.1.A.4. Mulching type, rates and procedures.

7.6.b.1.A.5. Species seeding rates and procedures for application of perennial and annual herbaceous, shrub and vine plant materials for ground cover.

7.6.b.1.A.6. A site specific tree planting prescription to establish forestland to include species, stems per acre and planting mixes.

7.6.b.1.B. Review of the Planting plan.

7.[6.]b.1.B.1. Before approving a forestland postmining land use, the Secretary shall assure that the planting plan is reviewed and approved by a forester employed [by] the Department of Environmental Protection. Before approving the planting plan, the Secretary shall assure that the reviewing forester has made site-specific written findings adequately addressing each of the elements of the plans. The reviewing forester shall make these findings within 45 days of receipt of the plans.

7.6.b.1.B.2. If after reviewing the planting plan, the reviewing forester finds that the plan complies with the requirements of this section, they shall prepare written findings stating the basis of approval. A copy of the findings shall be sent to Secretary and shall be made part of the Facts and Findings section of the permit application file.

The Secretary shall ensure that the plans comply with the requirements of this rule and other provisions of the approved State surface mining program.

7.6.b.1.B.3. If the reviewing forester finds the plans to be insufficient, the forester shall either:

7.6.b.1.B.3.(a). Contact the preparing forester and the permittee and provide the permittee with an opportunity to make the changes necessary to bring the planting plan into compliance; or,

7.6.b.1.B.3.(b). Notify the Secretary that the planting plan does not meet the requirements of this rule. The Secretary may not approve the surface mining permit until finding that the planting plans satisfy all of the requirements of this rule.

7.6.c. Soil placement, Substitute material and Grading

7.6.c.1. Except for valley fill faces, soil or soil substitutes shall be redistributed in a uniform thickness of at least four feet across the mine area.

7.6.c.2. The use of topsoil substitutes may be approved by the Secretary providing the applicant demonstrates: the volume of topsoil on the permit area is insufficient to meet the depth requirements of 7.6.c.1, the substitute material consists of at least 75% sandstone, has a composite paste pH between 5.0 and 7.5, has a soluble salt level of less than 1.0 mmhos/cm. and is in accordance with 14.3.c. The Secretary may allow substitute materials with less than 75% sandstone provided the applicant demonstrates the overburden in the mine area does not contain an adequate volume of sandstone to meet the depth requirements of 7.6.c.1, or the quality of sandstone in the overburden does not meet the requirements of this rule. This information shall be made a part of the permit application.

7.6.c.3. Soil shall be placed in a loose and non-compacted manner while achieving a static safety factor of 1.3 or greater. Grading and tracking shall be minimized to reduce compaction. Final grading and tracking shall be prohibited on all areas that are equal to or less than a 30 percent slope. Organic debris such as forest litter, tree tops, roots, and root balls may be left on and in the soil.

7.6.c.4. The permittee may regrade and reseed only those rills and gullies that are unstable and/or disrupt the approved postmining land use or the establishment of vegetative cover or cause or contribute to a violation of water quality standards for the receiving stream.

7.6.d. Liming and Fertilizing

7.6.d.1. Lime shall be required where the average soil pH is less than 5.0. Lime rates will be used to achieve a uniform soil pH of 5.5. Soil pH may vary from 5.0 to a maximum of 7.5. An alternate maximum or minimum soil pH may be approved based on the optimum pH for the revegetation species.

7.6.d.2. The Secretary shall require the permittee to fertilize based upon the needs of trees and establishment of ground cover to control surface soil erosion. Between 200 and 300 lbs./acre of 10-20-10 fertilizer shall be applied with the ground cover seeding. Other fertilizer materials and rates may be used only if the Secretary finds that the substitutions are appropriate based on soil testing performed by State certified laboratories.

7.6.e. Revegetation

7.6.e.1. Temporary erosion control vegetative cover shall be established as contemporaneously as practical with backfilling and grading until a permanent tree cover can be established. This cover shall consist of a combination of native and domesticated non-competitive and non-invasive cool and warm species grasses and other herbaceous vine or shrub species including legume species and shrubs. All species shall be slow growing and compatible with tree establishment and growth. The ground vegetation shall be capable of stabilizing the soil from excessive erosion, but the species should be slow growing and non-invasive to allow the establishment and growth of native herbaceous plants and trees. Seeding rates and composition must be in the planting plan. The following ground cover mix and seeding rates (lb./acre) are strongly recommended: winter wheat or oats (10 lbs./acre), fall seeding, foxtail millet (5 lbs./acre), summer seeding, weeping lovegrass (3 lbs./acre or redtop at 5 lbs./acre), kobe lespedeza (5 lbs./acre), birdsfoot trefoil (10lbs.,/acre), perennial rye grass (10 lbs.,/acre) and white clover (3 lbs./acres). Kentucky 31 fescue, serecia lespedeza, all vetches, clovers (except ladino and white clover) and other aggressive or invasive species shall not be used. Alternate seeding rates and composition will be considered on a case by case basis by the Secretary and may be approved if site specific conditions necessitate a deviation from the above. All mixes shall be compatible with the plant and animal species of the region and forestland use.

7.6.e.2. The selection of trees and shrubs species shall be based [on] each species' site requirements (soil type, degree of compaction, ground cover, competition, topographic position and aspect) and in accordance with the approved planting plan prepared by a registered professional forester. The stocking density of woody plants shall be at least 500 plants per acre.

7.6.e.2.A. The stocking density for trees shall be at least 350 plants per acre. There shall be a minimum of five species of trees, to include at least three higher value hardwood species (white oak, northern red oak, black oak, chestnut oak, white ash, sugar maple, black cherry and yellow poplar) and at least two lower value hardwoods or softwoods species (all hickories, red maple, basswood, cucumber magnolia, sycamore, white pine, Virginia pine and pitch × loblolly hybrid pine). There shall be at least 210 high value hardwoods plants per acre and 140 lower value hardwood or softwood plants per acre (70 plants per acre for each species selected).

7.6.e.2.B. The stocking density of shrubs and other woody plants shall not exceed 150 plants per acre. There shall be a minimum of three species of shrubs or other woody plants (black locust, bristly locust, dogwood, Eastern redbud, black alder, bigtooth aspen and bicolor lespedeza, (50 plants per acre for each species selected).

7.6.f. Standards for Success

7.6.f.1. The success of vegetation shall be determined on the basis of tree and shrub survival and ground cover.

7.6.f.2. Minimum success standard shall be tree survival (including volunteer tree species) and/or planted shrubs per acre equal to or greater than four hundred and fifty (450) trees per acre and a seventy percent (70%) ground cover where ground cover includes tree canopy, shrub and herbaceous cover, and organic litter during the growing season of the last year of the responsibility period; and

7.6.f.3. At the time of final bond release, at least eighty (80) percent of all trees and shrubs used to determine such success must have been in place for at least sixty (60) percent of the applicable minimum period of responsibility. Trees and shrubs counted in determining such success shall be healthy and shall have been in place for not less than two (2) growing seasons.

3. CSR 38-2-7.7. Wildlife

This subsection is new and provides as follows.

7.7. Wildlife

7.7.a. The Secretary may authorize wildlife as a postmining land use only if the following conditions have been met. This subsection applies to all AOC mining operations that propose a postmining land use of wildlife. The Secretary shall ensure that the plans comply with the requirements of this rule and other provisions of the approved State surface mining program. Start Printed Page 26343

7.7.b. Planting Plan

7.7.b.1. A wildlife biologist employed by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources shall develop a planting plan for the permitted area that meets the requirements of the West Virginia Surface Coal Mining and Reclamation Act. This plan shall be made a part of the mining permit application. The plans shall be in sufficient detail to demonstrate that the requirements of wildlife use can be met. The minimum contents of the plan shall be as follows:

7.7.b.1.A.1. Surface preparation plan that includes a description of the methods for replacing and grading the soil and other soil substitutes and their preparation for seeding and planting.

7.7.b.1.A.2. Liming and fertilizer plans.

7.7.b.1.A.3. Mulching type, rates and procedures.

7.7.b.1.A.4. Species seeding rates and procedures for application of perennial and annual herbaceous, shrub and vine plant materials for ground cover.

7.7.b.1.A.5. A site specific tree/shrub planting prescription to establish wildlife to include species, stems per acre and planting mixes.

7.7.c. Soil placement, Substitute material and Grading

7.7.c.1. Except for valley fill faces, soil or soil substitutes shall be redistributed in a uniform thickness of at least four feet across the mine area.

7.7.c.2. The use of topsoil substitutes may be approved by the Secretary providing the applicant demonstrates: the volume of topsoil on the permit area is insufficient to meet the depth requirements of 7.6.c.1, the substitute material consists of at least 75% sandstone, has a composite paste pH between 5.0 and 7.5, has a soluble salt level of less than 1.0 mmhos/cm. and is in accordance with 14.3.c. The Secretary may allow substitute materials with less than 75% sandstone provided the applicant demonstrates the overburden in the mine area does not contain an adequate volume of sandstone to meet the depth requirements of 7.6.c.1, or the quality of sandstone in the overburden does not meet the requirements of this rule. Such information shall be made a part of the permit application.

7.7.c.3. Soil shall be placed in a loose and non-compacted manner while achieving a static safety factor of 1.3 or greater. Grading and tracking shall be minimized to reduce compaction. Final grading and tracking shall be prohibited on all areas that are equal to or less than a 30 percent slope. Organic debris such as forest litter, tree tops, roots, and root balls may be left on and in the soil.

7.7.c.4. The permittee may regrade and reseed only those rills and gullies that are unstable and/or disrupt the approved postmining land use or the establishment of vegetative cover or cause or contribute to a violation of water quality standards for the receiving stream.

7.7.d. Liming and Fertilizing

7.7.d.1. Lime shall be required where the average soil pH is less than 5.0. Lime rates will be used to achieve a uniform soil pH of 5.5. Soil pH may vary from 5.0 to a maximum of 7.5. An alternate maximum or minimum soil pH may be approved based on the optimum pH for the revegetation species.

7.7.d.2. The Secretary shall require the permittee to fertilize based upon the needs of trees and establishment of ground cover to control surface soil erosion. A minimum of 300 lbs./acre of 10-20-10 fertilizer shall be applied with the ground cover seeding. Other fertilizer materials and rates may be used only if the Secretary finds that the substitutions are appropriate based on soil testing performed by State certified laboratories.

7.7.e. Revegetation

7.7.e.1. Temporary erosion control vegetative cover shall be established as contemporaneously as practical with backfilling and grading until a permanent tree cover can be established. This cover shall consist of a combination of native and domesticated non-competitive and non-invasive cool and warm species grasses and other herbaceous vine or shrub species including legume species and shrubs. All species shall be slow growing and compatible with tree establishment and growth. The ground vegetation shall be capable of stabilizing the soil from excessive erosion, but the species should be slow growing and non-invasive to allow the establishment and growth of native herbaceous plants and trees. Seeding rates and composition must be in the planting plan. The following ground cover mix and seeding rates (lb./acre) are strongly recommended: Winter wheat (20 lbs./acre), fall seeding, foxtail millet (10 lbs./acre), summer seeding, weeping lovegrass (3 lbs./acre or redtop at 5 lbs./acre), kobe lespedeza (5 lbs./acre), birdsfoot trefoil (15 lbs./acre), perennial rye grass (10 lbs./acre) and white clover (4 lbs./acre). Kentucky 31 fescue, serecia lespedeza, all vetches, clovers (except ladino and white clover) and other aggressive or invasive species shall not be used. Alternate seeding rates and composition will be considered on a case by case basis by the Secretary and may be approved if site specific conditions necessitate a deviation from the above. Areas designated, as openings shall contain only grasses in accordance with the approved planting plan specified under subsection 7.7.b. of this rule.

7.7.e.2. The selection of trees and shrubs species shall be based [on] each species' site requirements (soil type, degree of compaction, ground cover, competition, topographic position and aspect) and in accordance with the approved planting plan specified in under subsection 7.7.b. of this rule. The stocking density of woody plants shall be at least 500 plants per acre. Provided, that where a wildlife planting plan has been approved by a professional wildlife biologist and proposes a stocking rate of less than four hundred fifty (450) trees or shrubs per acre the standard for grasses and legumes shall meet those standards contained in subdivision 9.3.f of this rule. In all instances, there shall be a minimum of four species of tree or shrub, to include at least two hard mast producing species.

7.7.f. Standards for Success

7.7.f.1. The success of vegetation shall be determined on the basis of tree and shrub survival and ground cover.

7.7.f.2. Minimum success standard shall be tree survival (including volunteer tree species) and/or planted shrubs per acre equal to or greater than four hundred and fifty (450) trees per acre and a seventy percent (70%) ground cover where ground cover includes tree canopy, shrub and herbaceous cover, and organic litter during the growing season of the last year of the responsibility period; Provided, that where a wildlife planting plan has been approved by a professional wildlife biologist and proposes a stocking rate of less than four hundred fifty (450) trees or shrubs per acre the standard for grasses and legumes shall meet those standards contained in subdivision 9.3.f of this rule.

7.7.f.3. At the time of final bond release, at least eighty (80) percent of all trees and shrubs used to determine such success must have been in place for at least sixty (60) percent of the applicable minimum period of responsibility. Trees and shrubs counted in determining such success shall be healthy and shall have been in place for not less than two (2) growing seasons.

4. CSR 38-2-9.3.g. Revegetation Standards for Areas To Be Developed for Forest Land and/or Wildlife Use

This provision is amended by adding a sentence in the second paragraph that provides as follows:

A professional wildlife biologist employed by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources shall develop a planting plan that meets the requirements of the West Virginia Surface Coal Mining and Reclamation Act.

5. CSR 38-2-14.15.a.1. Contemporaneous Reclamation Standards; General

The first sentence of this paragraph is amended by deleting the partial citation “(c)(2),” and adding the words “and this rule” immediately following the amended citation. As amended, the sentence provides as follows:

14.15.a.1. Spoil returned to the mined-out area shall be backfilled and graded to the approximate original contour unless a waiver is granted pursuant to W. Va. Code 22-3-13 and this rule with all highwalls eliminated.

6. CSR 38-2-14.15.g. Variance—Permit Applications

This paragraph is amended by adding a sentence, which provides as follows:

Furthermore, the amount of bond for the operation shall be based on the maximum amount per acre specified in WV Code 22-3-12(b)(1).

In our December 3, 2002, Federal Register notice, we deferred rendering a decision on an earlier attempt by WVDEP to delete this language, given the possible adverse effect that its deletion could have on the State's alternative bonding system. The State's reinstatement of the deleted language is in response to that decision (67 FR 71837). Start Printed Page 26344

7. CSR 38-2-20.1.a.6. Inspection Frequencies Where Permits Have Been Revoked

This provision is new and provides as follows.

20.1.a.6. When a permit has been revoked, in lieu of the inspection frequency established in paragraphs 20.1.a.1 and 20.1.a.2 of this subsection, the Secretary shall inspect each revoked site on a set frequency commensurate with the public health and safety and environmental consideration present at each specific site, but in no case shall the inspection frequency be set at less than one complete inspection per calendar year. In selecting an alternate inspection frequency, the Secretary shall first conduct a complete inspection of the site and provide public notice. The Secretary shall place a notice in the newspaper with the broadest circulation in the locality of the revoked mine site providing the public with a 30-day period in which to submit written comments. The public notice shall contain the permittee's name, the permit number, the precise location of the land affected, the inspection frequency proposed, the general reasons for reducing the inspection frequency, the bond status of the permit, the telephone number and address of [the] Department of Environmental Protection Office where written comments on the reduced inspection frequency may be submitted, and the closing date of the comment period. Following the inspection and public notice, the Secretary shall prepare and maintain for public review a written finding justifying the alternative inspection frequency selected. This written finding shall justify the new inspection frequency by affirmatively addressing in detail all of the following criteria:

20.1.a.6.A. Whether, and to what extent, there exists on the site impoundments, earthen structures or other conditions that pose, or may reasonably be expected to ripen into, imminent dangers to the health or safety of the public or significant environmental harms to land, air, or water resources;

20.1.a.6.B. The extent to which existing impoundments or earthen structures were constructed and certified in accordance with prudent engineering designs approved in the permit;

20.1.a.6.C. The degree to which erosion and sediment control is present and functioning;

20.1.a.6.D. The extent to which the site is located near or above urbanized areas, communities, occupied dwellings, schools and other public or commercial buildings and facilities;

20.1.a.6.E. The extent of reclamation completed prior to abandonment and the degree of stability of unreclaimed areas, taking into consideration the physical characteristics of the land mined and the extent of settlement or revegetation that has occurred naturally with them; and

20.1.a.6.F. Based on a review of the complete and partial inspection report record for the site during at least two consecutive years, the rate at which adverse environmental or public health and safety conditions have and can be expected to progressively deteriorate.

8. CSR 38-2-22.5.a. Coal Refuse Performance Standards—Controlled Placement

This provision is amended in the second sentence by adding the words “hauled or conveyed and” immediately following the words “mine refuse shall be.” As amended, the sentence provides that coal mine refuse shall be hauled or conveyed and placed in a controlled manner to comply with the performance standards at CSR 38-2-22.5.a.1. through 22.5.a.5.

9. CSR 38-2-23. Special Authorization for Coal Extraction as an Incidental Part of Development of Land for Commercial, Residential, Industrial, or Civic Use

This section is deleted in its entirety. The remaining sections are renumbered accordingly.

This revision by the State is in response to our disapproval of Section 23 as discussed in the May 5, 2000, and March 4, 2003, Federal Register notices and as required by 30 CFR 948.16(oooo) (65 FR 26133 and 68 FR 10719).

10. CSR 38-2-24. Exemption for Coal Extraction Incidental to Extraction of Other Minerals

This section is new and provides as follows.

24.1. Exemption determination. The term other minerals as used in this section means any commercially valuable substance mined for its mineral value, excluding coal, topsoil, waste and fill material. No later than 90 days after filing of an administratively complete request for exemption, the Secretary shall make a written determination whether, and under what conditions, the persons claiming the exemption are exempt under this section, and shall notify the person making the request and persons submitting comments on the application of the determination and the basis for the determination. The determination of exemption shall be based upon information contained in the request and any other information available to the regulatory authority at that time. If the Secretary fails to provide a determination as specified in this section, an applicant who has not begun extraction may commence pending a determination unless the Secretary issues an interim finding, together with reasons, therefore, that the applicant may not begin coal extraction. Any person adversely affected by a determination of the Secretary pursuant to this section may file an appeal only in accordance with the provisions of article one, chapter twenty-two-b of this code, within thirty days after receipt of the determination. The filing of an appeal does not suspend the effect of the determination.

24.2. Contents of request for exemption. A request for exemption shall be made part of a quarrying application and shall include at a minimum:

24.2.a. The names and business address of the requestor to include a street address or route number;

24.2.b. A list of the minerals to be extracted;

24.2.c. Estimates of annual production of coal and the other minerals over the anticipated life of the operation;

24.2.d. A reasonable estimate of the number of acres of coal that will be extracted;

24.2.e. Evidence of publication of a public notice for an application for exemption. The notice that an application for exemption has been filed with the Secretary shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the operation is located and shall be published once and provide a thirty day comment period. The public notice must contain at a minimum:

24.2.e.1. The quarrying number identifying the operation;

24.2.e.2. A clear and accurate location map of a scale and detail found in the West Virginia General Highway Map. The map size will be at a minimum four inches (4″) x four inches (4″). Longitude and latitude lines and north arrow will be indicated on the map and such lines will cross at or near the center of the quarrying operation;

24.2.e.3. The names and business address of the requestor to include a street address or route number;

24.2.e.4. A narrative description clearly describing the location of the quarrying operation;

24.2.e.5. The name and address of the Department of Environmental Protection Office where written comments on the request may be submitted;

24.2.f. Geologic cross sections, maps or plans of the quarrying operation determine the following information:

24.2.f.1. The locations (latitude and longitude) and elevations of all bore holes;

24.2.f.2. The nature and depth of the various strata or overburden including geologic formation names and/or geologic members;

24.2.f.3. The nature and thickness of any coal or other mineral to be extracted;

24.2.g. A map of appropriate scale which clearly identifies the coal extraction area versus quarrying area;

24.2.h. A general description of coal extraction and quarrying activities for the operation; Start Printed Page 26345

24.2.i. Estimated annual revenues to be derived from bona fide sales of coal and other minerals to be extracted;

24.2.j. If coal or the other minerals are to be used rather than sold, estimated annual fair market values at the time of projected use of the coal and other minerals to be extracted;

24.2.k. The basis for all annual production, revenue, and fair market value estimates;

24.2.l. A summary of sale commitments and agreements, if any, that the applicant has received for future delivery of other minerals to be extracted from the mining area, or a description of potential markets for the other minerals;

24.2.m. If the other minerals are to be commercially used by the applicant, a description specifying the use; and

24.2.n. Any other information pertinent to the qualification of the operation as exempt.

24.3. Requirements for exemption.

24.3.a. Activities are exempt from the requirements of the Act if all of the following are satisfied:

24.3.a.1. The production of coal extracted from the mining area determined annually as described in this paragraph does not exceed 162/3 percent of the total annual production of coal and other minerals removed during such period for purposes of bona fide sale or reasonable commercial use.

24.3.a.2. Coal is extracted from a geological stratum lying above or immediately below the deepest stratum from which other minerals are extracted for purposes of bona fide sale or reasonable commercial use.

24.3.a.3. The revenue derived from the coal extracted from the mining area, determined annually does not exceed fifty (50) percent of the total revenue derived from the coal and other minerals removed for purposes of bona fide sale or reasonable commercial use. If the coal extracted or the minerals removed are used by the operator or transferred to a related entity for use instead of being sold in a bona fide sale, then the fair market value of the coal or other minerals shall be calculated at the time of use or transfer and shall be considered rather than revenue.

24.3.b. Persons seeking or that have obtained an exemption from the requirements of the Act [West Virginia Surface Coal Mining and Reclamation Act] shall comply with the following:

24.3.b.1. Each other mineral upon which an exemption under this section is based must be a commercially valuable mineral for which a market exists or which is quarried in bona fide anticipation that a market will exist for the mineral in the reasonably foreseeable future, not to exceed twelve months. A legally binding agreement for the future sale of other minerals is sufficient to demonstrate the above standard.

24.3.b.2. If either coal or other minerals are transferred or sold by the operator to a related entity for its use or sale, the transaction must be made for legitimate business purposes.

24.4. Conditions of exemption.

A person conducting activities covered by this part shall:

24.4.a. Maintain on site the information necessary to verify the exemption including, but not limited to, commercial use and sales information, extraction tonnages, and a copy of the exemption application and the Department's exemption approval;

24.4.b. Notify the Department of Environmental Protection upon the completion or permanent cessation of all coal extraction activities.

24.5. Stockpiling of minerals.

24.5.a. Coal extracted and stockpiled may be excluded from the calculation of annual production until the time of its sale, transfer to a related entity or use:

24.5.a.1. Up to an amount equaling a 12 month supply of the coal required for future sale, transfer or use as calculated based upon the average annual sales, transfer and use from the mining area over the two preceding years; or

24.5.a.2. For a mining area where coal has been extracted for a period of less than two years, up to an amount that would represent a 12 month supply of the coal required for future sales, transfer or use as calculated based on the average amount of coal sold, transferred or used each month.

24.5.b. The Department of Environmental Protection shall disallow all or part of an operator's tonnages of stockpiled other minerals for purposes of meeting the requirements of this part if the operator fails to maintain adequate and verifiable records of the mining area of origin, the disposition of stockpiles or if the disposition of the stockpiles indicates the lack of commercial use or market for the minerals.

The Department of Environmental Protection may only allow an operator to utilize tonnages of stockpiled other minerals for purposes of meeting the requirements of this part if:

24.5.b.1. The stockpiling is necessary to meet market conditions or is consistent with generally accepted industry practices; and

24.5.b.2. Except as provided in 24.5.b.3. of this section, the stockpiled other minerals do not exceed a 12 month supply of the mineral required for future sales as approved by the regulatory authority on the basis of the exemption application.

24.5.b.3. The Department of Environmental Protection may allow an operator to utilize tonnages of stockpiled other minerals beyond the 12 month limit established in 24.5.b.2. of this section if the operator can demonstrate to the Department of Environmental Protection's satisfaction that the additional tonnage is required to meet future business obligations of the operator, such as may be demonstrated by a legally binding agreement for future delivery of the minerals.

24.5.b.4. The Department of Environmental Protection may periodically revise the other mineral stockpile tonnage limits in accordance with the criteria established by 24.5.b.2. and 3. of this section based on additional information available to the Department of Environmental Protection.

24.6. Revocation and enforcement.

24.6.a. The Department of Environmental Protection shall conduct an annual compliance review of the operation requesting exemption.

24.6.b. If the Department of Environmental Protection has reason to believe that a specific operation was not exempt at the end of the previous reporting period, is not exempt, or will be unable to satisfy the exemption criteria at the end of the current reporting period, the Department of Environmental Protection shall notify the operator that the exemption may be revoked and the reason(s) therefore. The exemption will be revoked unless the operator demonstrates to the Department of Environmental Protection within 30 days that the operation in question should continue to be exempt.

24.6.c. If the Department of Environmental Protection finds that an operator has not demonstrated that activities conducted in the operation area qualify for the exemption, the Department of Environmental Protection shall revoke the exemption and immediately notify the operator and commenter(s). If a decision is made not to revoke an exemption, the Secretary shall immediately notify the operator and commenter(s).

24.6.d. Any adversely affected person by a determination of the Secretary pursuant to this section may file an appeal only in accordance with the provisions of WV § 22B-1-1 et seq. of this code, within thirty days after receipt of the determination. The filing of an appeal does not suspend the effect of the determination.

24.6.e. Direct enforcement. Start Printed Page 26346

24.6.e.1. An operator mining in accordance with the terms of an approved exemption shall not be cited for violations of WV § 22-3 et seq. or [section] 38-2 et seq. that occurred prior to the revocation of the exemption. Provided, however, an operator who does not conduct activities in accordance with the terms of an approved exemption and knows or should have known that the activities are not in accordance with the approved exemption shall be subject to direct enforcement action for violations of WV [section] 22-3 et seq. or [section] 38-2 et seq. that occur during the period of the activities.

24.6.e.2. Upon revocation of an exemption or denial of an exemption application, an operator shall stop conducting surface coal mining operations until a permit is obtained, and shall comply with the reclamation standards of WV [section] 22-3 et seq. or [section] 38-2 et seq. with regard to conditions, areas, and activities existing at the time of revocation or denial.

24.7. Reporting requirements.

24.7.a.1. Following approval by the Department of Environmental Protection of an exemption for an operation, the person receiving the exemption shall file a quarterly production report with the Department of Environmental Protection containing the information specified in 24.7.a.3. of this section.

24.7.a.2. The report shall be filed no later than 30 days after the end of each quarter.

24.7.a.3. The information in the report shall cover:

24.7.a.3.A. Quarterly production of coal and other minerals, and

24.7.a.3.B. The cumulative production of coal and other minerals.

24.7.a.3.C. The number of tons of coal stockpiled;

24.7.a.3.D. The number of tons of other minerals stockpiled by the operator.

24.7.b.1. Following approval by the Department of Environmental Protection of an exemption for an operation, the person receiving the exemption shall file an annual production report with the Department of Environmental Protection containing the information specified in 24.7.b.3.of this section.

24.7.b.2. The report shall be filed no later than 30 days after the end of each calendar year.

24.7.b.3. The information in the report shall include:

24.7.b.3.a. The number of tons of extracted coal sold in bona fide sales and the total revenue derived from these sales;

24.7.b.3.b. The number of tons of coal extracted and used or transferred by the operator or related entity and the estimated total fair market value of this coal;

24.7.b.3.c. The number of tons of coal stockpiled;

24.7.b.3.d. The number of tons of other commercially valuable minerals extracted and sold in bona fide sales and total revenue derived from these sales;

24.7.b.3.e. The number of tons of other commercially valuable minerals extracted and used or transferred by the operator or related entity and the estimated total fair market value of these minerals;

24.7.b.3 .f. The number of tons of other commercially valuable minerals removed and stockpiled by the operator;

24.7.b.3.g. The annual production of coal and other minerals and the annual revenue derived from coal and other minerals; and

24.7.b.3.h. The annual production of coal and other minerals and the annual revenue derived from coal and other minerals during the preceding year.

24.8. Public Availability of Information.

24.8.1. Except as provided in 24.8.2, all information submitted to the Secretary shall be made immediately available for public inspection and copying at the office with jurisdiction over coal mining in the locality of the subject exempt operation, until at least three (3) years after expiration of the period during which the subject mining area is active.

24.8.2 The Secretary may keep information submitted to the Secretary confidential if the person submitting it requests in writing, at the time of submission, that it be kept confidential and if the information concerns trade secrets or is privileged commercial or financial information of the persons intending to conduct operations under this rule.

24.8.3. Information requested to be held as confidential under subsection 24.8.2 shall not be made publicly available until after notice and opportunity to be heard is afforded persons both seeking and opposing disclosure of the information.

24.9. Right of Inspection and Entry.

24.9.1 Authorized representatives of the Secretary and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior shall have the right to conduct inspections of operations claiming exemption.

24.9.2. Each authorized representative of the Secretary and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior conducting an inspection under this rule shall:

24.9.2.a. Have a right of entry to, upon, and through any mining and reclamation operations without advance notice or a search warrant, upon presentation of appropriate credentials;

24.9.2.b. At reasonable times and without delay, have access to and copy any records relevant to the exemption; and

24.9.2.c. Have a right to gather physical and photographic evidence to document conditions, practices, or violations at a site.

24.9.3. No search warrant shall be required with respect to any activity under 24.9.1 and 24.9.2., except that a search warrant may be required for entry into a building.

III. Public Comment Procedures

Under the provisions of 30 CFR 732.17(h), we are seeking your comments on whether the amendment satisfies the applicable program approval criteria of 30 CFR 732.15. If we approve the amendment, it will become part of the West Virginia program.

Written Comments

Send your written or electronic comments to OSM at the address given above. Your written comments should be specific, pertain only to the issues proposed in this rulemaking, and include explanations in support of your recommendations. We may not consider or respond to your comments when developing the final rule if they are received after the close of the comment period (see DATES). We will make every attempt to log all comments into the administrative record, but comments delivered to an address other than the Charleston Field Office may not be logged in.

Electronic Comments

Please submit Internet comments as an ASCII, Word file avoiding the use of special characters and any form of encryption. Please also include Attn: SATS NO. WV-102-FOR@ and your name and return address in your Internet message. If you do not receive a confirmation that we have received your Internet message, contact the Charleston Field office at (304) 347-7158.

Availability of Comments

We will make comments, including names and addresses of respondents, available for public review during normal business hours. We will not consider anonymous comments. If individual respondents request confidentiality, we will honor their request to the extent allowable by law. Individual respondents who wish to withhold their name or address from public review, except for the city or Start Printed Page 26347town, must state this prominently at the beginning of their 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, contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by 4 p.m. (local time), on May 27, 2004. If you are disabled and need special accommodations to attend a public hearing, contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. We will arrange the location and time of the hearing with those persons requesting the hearing. If no one requests an opportunity to speak, we will not hold a hearing.

To assist the transcriber and ensure an accurate record, we request, if possible, that each person who speaks at the public hearing provide us with a written copy of his or her comments. The public hearing will continue on the specified date until everyone scheduled to speak has been given an opportunity to be 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 everyone scheduled to speak and others present in the audience who wish to speak, have been heard.

Public Meeting

If only one person requests an opportunity to speak, we may hold a public meeting rather than a public hearing. If you wish to meet with us to discuss the amendment, please 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, we will post notices of meetings at the locations listed under

ADDRESSES:

We will make a written summary of each meeting a part of the Administrative Record.

IV. Procedural Determinations

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 12866—Regulatory Planning and Review

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

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 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 because each 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 the Federal regulations at 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.

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 13175—Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments

In accordance with Executive Order 13175, we have evaluated the potential effects of this rule on Federally-recognized Indian tribes and have determined that the rule does not have substantial direct effects on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian tribes. The basis for this determination is that our decision is on a State regulatory program and does not involve a Federal regulation involving Indian lands.

Executive Order 13211—Regulations That Significantly Affect the Supply, Distribution, or Use of Energy

On May 18, 2001, the President issued Executive Order 13211 which requires agencies to prepare a Statement of Energy Effects for a rule that is (1) considered significant under Executive Order 12866, and (2) likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy. Because this rule is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866 and is not expected to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy, a Statement of Energy Effects is not required.

National Environmental Policy Act

This rule does not require an environmental impact statement because section 702(d) of SMCRA (30 U.S.C. 1292(d)) provides that agency decisions on proposed State regulatory program provisions do not constitute major Federal actions within the meaning of section 102(2)(C) of the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4332(2)(C)).

Paperwork Reduction Act

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

Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Department of the Interior certifies 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. 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 regulations.

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; and (c) Does not Start Printed Page 26348have 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 analysis performed under various laws and executive orders for the counterpart Federal regulations.

Unfunded Mandates

This rule will not impose an unfunded mandate on State, local, or tribal governments or the private sector of $100 million or more in any given year. This determination is based upon the analysis performed under various laws and executive orders for the counterpart Federal regulations.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 30 CFR Part 948

End List of Subjects Start Signature

Dated: April 21, 2004.

Brent Wahlquist,

Regional Director, Appalachian Regional Coordinating Center.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 04-10747 Filed 5-11-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4310-05-P