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Proposed Rule

Montana Regulatory Program

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Interior.


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


We are announcing the reopening and extension of the public comment period for a previously announced proposed amendment to the Montana regulatory program (hereinafter, the “Montana program”) under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA or the Act). Montana proposed revisions to, additions of, and deletions of rules about: Definitions; permit application requirements; application processing and public participation; application review, findings, and issuance; permit conditions; permit renewal; performance standards; prospecting permits and notices of intent; bonding and insurance; protection of parks and historic sites; lands where mining is prohibited; inspection and enforcement; civil penalties; small operator assistance program (SOAP); restrictions on employee financial interests; blasters license; and revision of permits.

At the request of three interested parties, we are extending the previously announced public comment period. Start Printed Page 7476This document gives the times and locations that the Montana program and proposed amendment to that program are available for your inspection, the extended comment period during which you may submit written comments on the amendment, and the procedures that we will follow for the public hearing, if one is requested.


We will accept written comments on this amendment until 4 p.m., m.s.t., February 28, 2006. If requested, we will hold a public hearing on the amendment on February 28, 2006. We will accept requests to speak until 4 p.m., m.s.t., on February 23, 2006.


You may submit comments, identified by “MT-025-FOR,” by any of the following methods:

  • E-mail: Include “MT-025-FOR” in the subject line of the message.
  • Mail, Hand Delivery/Courier: Richard Buckley, Acting Director, Casper Field Office, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Federal Building, 150 East B Street, Room 1018, Casper, WY 82601-1018. (307) 261-6550.
  • Fax: (307) 261-6552.
  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and the identifier “MT-025-FOR”. For detailed instructions on submitting comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see “II. Public Comment Procedures” below.

Docket: Access to the docket, to review copies of the Montana program, this amendment, a listing of any scheduled public hearings, and all written comments received in response to this document, may be obtained 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 the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement's (OSM) Casper Field Office. In addition, you may review a copy of the amendment during regular business hours at the following locations:

Richard Buckley, Acting Director, Casper Field Office, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Federal Building, 150 East B Street, Room 1018, Casper, WY 82601-1018. (307) 261-6550. E-mail:

Neil Harrington, Chief, Industrial and Energy Minerals Bureau, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, P.O. Box 200901, Helena, MT 59620-0901. (406) 444-2544. E-mail:

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Richard Buckley, Telephone: (307) 261-6550. E-mail:

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I. Background on the Proposed Amendment

II. Public Comment Procedures

I. Background on the Proposed Amendment

By letter dated August 29, 2005, Montana sent us a proposed amendment to its program (MT-025-FOR, Administrative Record No. MT-22-1) under SMCRA (30 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.). Montana sent the amendment in response to legislative revisions to its statutes, to the required program amendments at 30 CFR 926.16(e)(1), (k), (l), and (m), and to include the changes made at its own initiative. The full text of the program amendment is available for you to read at the locations listed above under ADDRESSES. Detailed information on the program amendment is also available in the November 29, 2005, Federal Register (70 FR 71428).

We announced receipt of the proposed amendment in the November 29, 2005, Federal Register, provided an opportunity for a public hearing or meeting on its substantive adequacy, and invited public comment on its adequacy. Because no one requested a public hearing or meeting, none was held. The public comment period ended on December 29, 2005. On that date, we received from one citizen and two citizen/environmental groups (Kentucky Resources Council, Bull Mountain Land Alliance) requests to extend the comment period by 30 days. Because of the extensive nature of this proposed program amendment (the November 29, 2005, proposed rule encompasses some 13 pages in the Federal Register), we are extending the comment period for the full 30 days requested.

II. 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 Montana program. We cannot ensure that comments received after the close of the comment period (see DATES) or at locations other than those listed above (see ADDRESSES) will be considered or included in the Administrative Record.

Written Comments

Send your written or electronic comments to OSM at the address given above. Your comments should be specific, pertain only to the issues proposed in this rulemaking, and include explanations in support of your recommendations.

Electronic Comments

Please submit Internet comments as an ASCII or MSWord file avoiding the use of special characters and any form of encryption. Please also include “Attn: SATS No. MT-025-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 Casper Field Office at (307) 261-6550.

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 town, 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 review 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., m.s.t., on February 23, 2006. 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 the hearing.

To assist the transcriber and ensure an accurate record, we request, if possible, that each person who speaks at a 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. Start Printed Page 7477

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 are 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.

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List of Subjects in 30 CFR Part 926

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Dated: December 30, 2005.

Allen D. Klein,

Director, Western Region.

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[FR Doc. E6-2005 Filed 2-10-06; 8:45 am]