80 FR 63933 - Virginia Regulatory Program

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement

Federal Register Volume 80, Issue 204 (October 22, 2015)

Page Range63933-63935
FR Document2015-26842

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), is announcing receipt of a proposed amendment to the Virginia regulatory program (the Virginia program) under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA or the Act). Through this proposed amendment, the State seeks to revise the Virginia Coal Surface Mining Reclamation Regulations (the State regulations) in light of legislative changes made by the General Assembly of Virginia. If approved, the proposed amendment would incorporate these legislative changes into the approved State program. Additionally, the State regulations would be amended to revise the language of the public participation regulations to clarify proof of publication, remove the self-bonding instrument, and remove duplicate pool bond regulations already addressed under the Code of Virginia. This document gives the times and locations that the Virginia program and this proposed amendment to that program are available for your inspection, the 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.

Federal Register, Volume 80 Issue 204 (Thursday, October 22, 2015)
[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 204 (Thursday, October 22, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 63933-63935]
From the Federal Register Online  [www.thefederalregister.org]
[FR Doc No: 2015-26842]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement

30 CFR Part 946

[SATS No. VA-127-FOR; Docket ID: OSM-2015-0003; S1D1S SS08011000 
SX064A000 167S180110; S2D2S SS08011000 SX064A000 16XS501520]


Virginia Regulatory Program

AGENCY: Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Interior.

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

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SUMMARY: The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement 
(OSMRE), is announcing receipt of a proposed amendment to the Virginia 
regulatory program (the Virginia program) under the Surface Mining 
Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA or the Act). Through this 
proposed amendment, the State seeks to revise the Virginia Coal Surface 
Mining Reclamation Regulations (the State regulations) in light of 
legislative changes made by the General Assembly of Virginia. If 
approved, the proposed amendment would incorporate these legislative 
changes into the approved State program. Additionally, the State 
regulations would be amended to revise the language of the public 
participation regulations to clarify proof of publication, remove the 
self-bonding instrument, and remove duplicate pool bond regulations 
already addressed under the Code of Virginia.
    This document gives the times and locations that the Virginia 
program and this proposed amendment to that program are available for 
your inspection, the 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.

DATES: We will accept written comments on this amendment until 4:00 
p.m., Eastern Standard Time (E.S.T.), November 23, 2015. If requested, 
we will hold a public hearing on the amendment on November 16, 2015. We 
will accept requests to speak at a hearing until 4:00 p.m., E.S.T. on 
November 6, 2015.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by SATS No. VA-127-FOR, 
by any of the following methods:
     Mail/Hand Delivery: Mr. Earl Bandy, Field Office Director, 
Knoxville Field Office, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and 
Enforcement, 710 Locust Street, 2nd Floor, Knoxville, Tennessee 37902.
     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 of the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.
    Docket: For access to the docket to review copies of the Virginia 
program, 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 OSMRE's Knoxville Field Office or 
the full text of the program amendment is available for you to read at 
www.regulations.gov.
    Mr. Earl Bandy, Field Office Director, Knoxville Field Office, 
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, 710 Locust 
Street, 2nd Floor, Knoxville, Tennessee 37902, Telephone: (865) 545-
4103 ext 186, Email: [email protected].
    In addition, you may review a copy of the amendment during regular 
business hours at the following location:
    Mr. Harve A. Mooney, Legal Services Officer, Virginia Department of 
Mines, Minerals and Energy, 3405 Mountain Empire Road, Big Stone Gap, 
Virginia

[[Page 63934]]

24219, Telephone: (276) 523-8271, Email: 
[email protected].

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Earl Bandy, Field Office Director, 
Knoxville Field Office. Telephone: (865) 545-4103 ext 186. Email: 
[email protected].


SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background on the Virginia Program
II. Description of the Proposed Amendment
III. Public Comment Procedures
IV. Procedural Determinations

I. Background on the 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, ``. . . 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 Virginia program on December 15, 1981. You 
can find background information on the Virginia program, including the 
Secretary's findings, the disposition of comments, and conditions of 
approval, in the December 15, 1981, Federal Register (46 FR 61088). You 
can also find later actions concerning the Virginia program and program 
amendments at 30 CFR 946.12, 946.13, and 946.15.

II. Description of the Proposed Amendment

    By letter dated June 12, 2015 (Administrative Record No. VA 2024), 
the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (VADMME) sent us 
an amendment to its program under SMCRA (30 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.).
    At the VADMME's request, an actuarial group performed an audit of 
the Virginia Coal Surface Mining Reclamation Fund (the Fund). In 
evaluation year 2013, the actuary group provided a final report 
(Administrative Record No. VA 2022) with recommendations to improve the 
financial soundness of the Fund. In an effort to improve the operation 
of the Fund, the General Assembly of Virginia enacted legislation to 
amend certain provisions of the Virginia Coal Surface Mining Control 
and Reclamation Act of 1979 (VASMCRA). See 2014 Bill Text VA H.B. 710. 
In its submission, VADMME provided us with a copy of House Bill 710 
(H.B. 710) enacted March 5, 2014 (Administrative Record No. VA 2021), 
amending the Code of Virginia at Va. Code Ann. Sec. Sec.  45.1-241, 
45.1-270.3, and 45.1-270.4. The enactment of H.B. 710 revised the coal 
tax structure to collect the tax for all time periods of operation, 
increased the Fund balance cap from $2 million to $20 million, and 
removed an applicant's ability to submit its own bond without separate 
surety, thereby removing the self-bonding option.
    Accordingly, VADMME now seeks to amend its State program to reflect 
the VASMCRA changes made through H.B. 710. VADMME's proposed changes to 
its State regulations are grouped into three categories for the purpose 
of this proposed rule notice and summarized below.

1. Removal of Duplicative Pool Bond Requirements Under Part 801 of the 
State Regulations

    VADMME proposes to amend its State program by removing certain 
duplicate regulations for the pool bond because it states that these 
items are already addressed in the amended VASMCRA at Va. Code Ann. 
Sec.  45.1-241.
    VADMME proposes to remove, in whole, the State regulations at 4 VAC 
25-130-801.11, 801.14, and 801.16, which address participation in the 
pool bond fund, the reclamation tax, and reinstatement to the pool bond 
fund.
    The proposed amendment would amend 4 VAC 25-130-801.12 entitled 
``Entrance fee and bond'' by removing a majority of the language in 
subsection (a), and would delete subsections (d) and (g) of this 
regulations. Additionally, VADMME's proposed amendment would remove 
subsection (c) of this regulation since it references self-bonding, 
which is no longer permitted by the State as addressed in a separate 
category below. Approval of these proposed modifications would result 
in the renumbering of the remaining subsections.
    As VADMME seeks to remove section 801.14 of the State regulations, 
the proposed revisions to 4 VAC 25-130-801.15, entitled ``Collection of 
the reclamation tax and penalties for non-payment'', entail an amended 
reference to Sec.  45.1-270.4 of the Code of Virginia within 
subsections (b) and (d). A minor revision is also proposed at 
subsection (a) to update the point of contact for the Fund tax 
reporting form.

2. Revisions to the Public Participation and Proof of Publication 
Language Referenced in the State Regulations

    VADMME proposes to revise the public participation language 
referenced in 4 VAC 25-130-772.12, 778.21, and 800.40, to be consistent 
with the corresponding Federal regulations and to clarify proof of 
publication requirements.
    The proposed amendment would revise the public notice language in 
subsection (c)(1) of 4 VAC 25-130-772.12, entitled ``Permit 
requirements for exploration removing more than 250 tons of coal, or 
occurring on lands designated as unsuitable for surface coal mining 
operations'' and the language in 4 VAC 25-130-778.21, entitled ``Proof 
of publication'' to be more consistent with the language provided in 
the Federal regulations at 30 CFR 772.12 and 778.21. The revised 
language would clarify that the required proof of publication shall be 
made a part of a subsequent submittal after the last date of 
publication prior to approval.
    Additionally, the proposed amendment would revise the language in 4 
VAC 25-130-800.40, entitled ``Requirements to release performance 
bonds'' referencing public notice and proof of publication required for 
bond release applications. VADMME also proposes to create a new 
subsection by moving language from 4 VAC 25-130-800.40(a)(2), 
discussing the permittee's duty to submit copies of notices sent to 
those within the locality as part of the bond release application, into 
a new subsection (a)(3). The existing subsection (a)(3) would be 
renumbered to (a)(4).

3. Removal of the Self-Bonding and Escrow Bonding Options

    In response to changes made to the Code of Virginia through the 
enactment of H.B. 710, VADMME proposes to remove the self-bonding 
instrument in an effort to improve the financial soundness of the Fund. 
As definitions associated with self-bonding procedures, VADMME also 
seeks to remove the definitions of ``Self-bonding'', ``Cognovit note'', 
and ``Indemnity agreement'' currently provided under 4 VAC 25-130-
700.5. The corresponding Federal regulation for this section is 30 CFR 
800.5.
    Furthermore, VADMME proposes to remove the provision allowing for 
Escrow bonding, outlined at 4 VAC 25-130-800.23, to reflect changes in 
the bonding requirements in the Code of Virginia. This type of bonding, 
in addition to the self-bonding option,

[[Page 63935]]

would no longer be allowed under the proposed amendment.
    The full text of the program amendment is available for you to read 
at the locations listed above under ADDRESSES or at 
www.regulations.gov.

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 State program.

Electric or Written Comments

    If you submit written or electronic comments on the proposed rule 
during the 30-day comment period, they should be specific, confined to 
issues pertinent to the proposed regulations, and explain the reason 
for any recommended change(s). We appreciate any and all comments, but 
those most useful and likely to influence decisions on the final 
regulations will be those that either involve personal experience or 
include citations to and analyses of SMCRA, its legislative history, 
its implementing regulations, case law, other pertinent State or 
Federal laws or regulations, technical literature, or other relevant 
publications.
    We cannot ensure that comments received after the close of the 
comment period (see DATES) or sent to an address other than those 
listed (see ADDRESSES) will be included and considered in the docket 
for this rulemaking.

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email 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.

Public Hearing

    If you wish to speak at the public hearing, contact the person 
listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by 4:00 p.m., E.S.T. on 
November 6, 2015. If you are disabled and need reasonable 
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 
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.

IV. Procedural Determinations

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.

Other Laws and Executive Orders Affecting Rulemaking

    When a State submits a program amendment to OSMRE for review, our 
regulations at 30 CFR 732.17(h) require us to publish a notice in the 
Federal Register indicating receipt of the proposed amendment, its text 
or a summary of its terms, and an opportunity for public comment. We 
conclude our review of the proposed amendment after the close of the 
public comment period and determine whether the amendment should be 
approved, approved in part, or not approved. At that time, we will also 
make the determinations and certifications required by the various laws 
and executive orders governing the rulemaking process and include them 
in the final rule.

List of Subjects in 30 CFR Part 946

    Intergovernmental relations, Surface mining, Underground mining.

    Dated: July 13, 2015.
Thomas D. Shope,
Regional Director, Appalachian Region.
[FR Doc. 2015-26842 Filed 10-21-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-05-P


Current View
CategoryRegulatory Information
CollectionFederal Register
sudoc ClassAE 2.7:
GS 4.107:
AE 2.106:
PublisherOffice of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration
SectionProposed Rules
ActionProposed rule; public comment period and opportunity for public hearing on proposed amendment.
DatesWe will accept written comments on this amendment until 4:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (E.S.T.), November 23, 2015. If requested, we will hold a public hearing on the amendment on November 16, 2015. We will accept requests to speak at a hearing until 4:00 p.m., E.S.T. on November 6, 2015.
ContactMr. Earl Bandy, Field Office Director, Knoxville Field Office. Telephone: (865) 545-4103 ext 186. Email: [email protected]
FR Citation80 FR 63933 
CFR AssociatedIntergovernmental Relations; Surface Mining and Underground Mining

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