Senate Bill No. 56

(By Senators Tomblin, Mr. President, Chafin, Jackson, Ross, Wooton and Sharpe)


[Introduced January 14, 1998;

referred to the Committee on Energy, Industry and Mining.]


A BILL to amend and reenact section ten, article three, chapter twenty-two of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, relating to surface-mining reclamation plans; including recommendations by local economic development authorities in reclamation plans; and promulgation of emergency rules.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That section ten, article three, chapter twenty-two of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
§22-3-10. Reclamation plan requirements.

(a) Each reclamation plan submitted as part of a surface-mining permit application shall include, in the degree of detail necessary to demonstrate that reclamation required by this article can be accomplished, a statement of:
(1) The identification of the lands subject to surface mining over the estimated life of these operations and the size, sequence and timing of the operations for which it is anticipated that individual permits for mining will be sought;
(2) The condition of the land to be covered by the permit prior to any mining, including: (A) The uses existing at the time of the application and, if such the land has a history of previous mining, the uses which preceded any mining; (B) the capability of the land prior to any mining to support a variety of uses, giving consideration to soil and foundation characteristics, topography and vegetation cover and, if applicable, a soil survey prepared pursuant to subdivision (15), subsection (a), section nine of this article; and (C) the best information available on the productivity of the land prior to mining, including appropriate classification as prime farmlands, and the average yield of food, fiber, forage or wood products from such the lands obtained under high levels of management;
(3) The use which is proposed to be made of the land following reclamation, including a discussion of the utility and capacity of the reclaimed land to support a variety of alternative uses and the relationship of such the use to existing land use policies and plans, and the comments of any owner of the surface, other state agencies and local governments, which would have to initiate, implement, approve or authorize the proposed use of the land following reclamation;
(4) A detailed description of how the proposed postmining land use is to be achieved and the necessary support activities which may be needed to achieve the proposed land use;
(5) The engineering techniques proposed to be used in mining and reclamation and a description of the major equipment; a plan for the control of surface water drainage and of water accumulation; a plan where appropriate, for backfilling, soil stabilization and compacting, grading, revegetation and a plan for soil reconstruction, replacement and stabilization pursuant to the performance standards in subdivision (7), subsection (b), section thirteen of this article for those food, forage and forest lands identified therein; and a statement as to how the operator plans to comply with each of the applicable requirements set out in section thirteen or fourteen of this article;
(6) A detailed estimated timetable for the accomplishment of each major step in the reclamation plan;
(7) The consideration which has been given to conducting surface-mining operations in a manner consistent with surface owner plans and applicable state and local land use plans and programs;
(8) The steps to be taken to comply with applicable air and water quality laws and rules and any applicable health and safety standards;
(9) The consideration which has been given to developing the reclamation plan in a manner consistent with local physical environmental and climatological conditions;
(10) All lands, interests in lands or options on such the interests held by the applicant or pending bids on interests in lands by the applicant, which lands are contiguous to the area to be covered by the permit;
(11) A detailed description of the measures to be taken during the surface-mining and reclamation process to assure the protection of: (A) The quality of surface and groundwater systems, both on and off-site, from adverse effects of the surface-mining operation; (B) the rights of present users to such the water; and (C) the quantity of surface and groundwater systems, both on and off-site, from adverse effects of the surface-mining operation or to provide alternative sources of water where such the protection of quantity cannot be assured;
(12) The results of tests borings which the applicant has made at the area to be covered by the permit, or other equivalent information and data in a form satisfactory to the director, including the location of subsurface water, and an analysis of the chemical properties, including acid forming properties of the mineral and overburden: Provided, That information which pertains only to the analysis of the chemical and physical properties of the coal, except information regarding such the mineral or elemental contents which are potentially toxic in the environment, shall be kept confidential and not made a matter of public record;
(13) The consideration which has been given to maximize the utilization and conservation of the solid fuel resource being recovered so that reaffecting the land in the future can be minimized; and
(14) Such Any other requirements as the director may prescribe by rule.
(b) Any surface-mining permit application filed after the effective date of this subsection may include, in addition to the requirements of subsection (a) of this section, the recommendations of any potentially affected local economic development authority as to the postmining land use which would be in the best interest of the local community. The recommendations may include a reclamation plan, to the extent permitted under existing federal regulations, that the land not be restored to its original proximate contour, but rather, utilized for further economic development by preserving mine access roads, infrastructure, buildings and other physical components and by requiring the initial installation of water, sewerage or other utilities at mine sites in a manner so as to assure postmining usage. Notwithstanding any provision of this article to the contrary, any reclamation plan approved but not implemented or pending approval as of the effective date of this section may be amended to provide for a revised reclamation plan consistent with the provisions of this subsection.
(c) The director shall promulgate emergency rules pursuant to the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code to effectuate the provisions of subsection (b) of this section.
(b) (d) The reclamation plan shall be available to the public for review except for those portions thereof specifically exempted in subsection (a) of this section.