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Proposed Rule

Texas Regulatory Program and Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Plan

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.

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AGENCY:

Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Interior.

ACTION:

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

SUMMARY:

We, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM), are announcing receipt of revisions to a previously proposed amendment to the Texas regulatory program (Texas program) and the Texas abandoned mine land plan (Texas plan) under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA or the Act). The revisions concern “determination of amount of penalty” in the Texas regulations and “administrative penalties for violation of permit conditions” in the Texas statute. Texas intends to improve operational efficiency.

This document gives the times and locations that the Texas program and Texas plan and proposed amendments to that program and plan are available for your inspection and the comment period during which you may submit written comments on the revisions to the amendment.

DATES:

We will accept written comments until 4 p.m., c.t., June 26, 2007.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. TX-057-FOR, by any of the following methods:

  • E-mail: athomas@osmre.gov. Include “Docket No. TX-057-FOR” in the subject line of the message.
  • Mail/Hand Delivery: A. Dwight Thomas, Acting Director, Tulsa Field Office, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, 1645 South 101st East Avenue, Suite 145, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74128.
  • Fax: (918) 581-6419.
  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number for this rulemaking. For detailed instructions on submitting comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the “Public Comment Procedures” heading Start Printed Page 32050of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.

Docket: For access to the docket to review copies of the Texas program and Texas plan, this amendment, a listing of any scheduled public hearings, and all written comments received in response to this document, you must go to the address listed below during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. You may receive one free copy of the amendment by contacting OSM's Tulsa Field Office: A. Dwight Thomas, Acting Director, Tulsa Field Office, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, 1645 South 101st East Avenue, Suite 145, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74128, Telephone: (918) 581-6430, E-mail: athomas@osmre.gov.

In addition, you may review a copy of the amendment during regular business hours at the following location: Surface Mining and Reclamation Division, Railroad Commission of Texas, 1701 North Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78711-2967, Telephone: (512) 463-6900.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

A. Dwight Thomas, Acting Director, Tulsa Field Office. Telephone: (918) 581-6430. E-mail: athomas@osmre.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background on the Texas Program and Texas Plan

II. Description of the Proposed Amendment

III. Public Comment Procedures

IV. Procedural Determinations

I. Background on the Texas Program and Texas Plan

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 this Act * * *; and rules and regulations consistent with regulations issued by the Secretary pursuant to this 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 Texas program effective February 16, 1980. You can find background information on the Texas program, including the Secretary's findings, the disposition of comments, and the conditions of approval of the Texas program in the February 27, 1980, Federal Register (45 FR 12998). You can also find later actions concerning the Texas program and program amendments at 30 CFR 943.10, 943.15 and 943.16.

The Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program was established by Title IV of the Act (30 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.) in response to concerns over extensive environmental damage caused by past coal mining activities. The program is funded by a reclamation fee collected on each ton of coal that is produced. The money collected is used to finance the reclamation of abandoned coal mines and for other authorized activities. Section 405 of the Act allows States and Indian Tribes to assume exclusive responsibility for reclamation activity within the State or on Indian lands if they develop and submit to the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) for approval, a program (often referred to as a plan) for the reclamation of abandoned coal mines. On the basis of these criteria, the Secretary approved the Texas plan on June 23, 1980. You can find background information on the Texas plan, including the Secretary's findings, the disposition of comments, and the approval of the plan in the June 23, 1980, Federal Register (45 FR 41937). You can find later actions concerning the Texas plan and amendments to the plan at 30 CFR 943.25.

II. Description of the Proposed Amendment

By letter dated February 14, 2007 (Administrative Record No. TX-662), and at its own initiative, Texas sent us an amendment to its program and plan under SMCRA (30 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.). We announced receipt of the proposed amendment in the April 30, 2007, Federal Register (72 FR 21185) and invited public comment on its adequacy. The public comment period ended May 30, 2007.

During our review of the amendment, the Railroad Commission of Texas notified us that the Texas legislation that would raise the State's administrative penalty for violations had been capped at $10,000 instead of the $13,000 as proposed in the amendment to the Texas program submitted to us on February 14, 2007 (Administrative Record No. TX-662). On May 7, 2007, Texas sent us a revision to its amendment that pertains to its regulatory program (Administrative Record No. TX-662.03).

Texas submitted additional revisions for the following provisions of the amendment:

A. Revisions to Texas' Regulations, Title 16 Texas Administrative Code (TAC)

Section 12.688 Determination of Amount of Penalty

Texas' penalty schedule currently begins with a minimum penalty of $20 and increases to a maximum penalty of $5,000. Texas proposes to change the penalty schedule so that it begins with a minimum penalty of $550 and increases to a maximum penalty of $10,000. Texas proposes to increase the penalties to reflect the decreased value in the dollar since the penalty schedule was promulgated in 1979.

B. Revisions to Texas' Statute, Chapter 134 Texas Natural Resources Code

Section 134.174 Administrative Penalty for Violation of Permit Condition of this Chapter

Texas proposes to revise subsection (b) to read as follows:

(b) The penalty may not exceed $10,000 for each violation. Each day a violation continues may be considered a separate violation for purposes of penalty assessments.

III. Public Comment Procedures

We are reopening the comment period on the proposed Texas program and Texas plan amendment to provide the public an opportunity to reconsider the adequacy of the proposed amendment in light of the additional materials submitted. Under the provisions of 30 CFR 732.17(h) and 30 CFR 884.15(a), we are seeking comments on whether the proposed amendment satisfies the applicable program and plan approval criteria of 30 CFR 732.15 and 30 CFR 884.14, respectively. If we approve the amendment, it will become part of the Texas program and Texas plan, as appropriate.

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 will 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 Tulsa Field Office may not be logged in.

Electronic Comments

Please submit Internet comments as an ASCII or Word file avoiding the use of special characters and any form of Start Printed Page 32051encryption. Please also include “Attn: Docket No. TX-057-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 Tulsa Field Office at (918) 581-6430.

Public Availability of Comments

Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

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 exempted from review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 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. This determination is based on the fact that the Texas program does not regulate coal exploration and surface coal mining and reclamation operations on Indian lands. Therefore, the Texas program has no effect on Federally-recognized Indian tribes.

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 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 regulation was not considered a major rule.

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 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 regulation did not impose an unfunded mandate.

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List of Subjects in 30 CFR Part 943

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Dated: May 25, 2007.

Ervin J. Barchenger,

Acting Regional Director, Mid-Continent Region.

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[FR Doc. E7-11193 Filed 6-8-07; 8:45 am]

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