[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 182 (Wednesday, September 19, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 58056-58058]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-23077]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement

30 CFR Part 924

[SATS No. MS-023-FOR; Docket No. OSM-2012-0018]


Mississippi Regulatory Program

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

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

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SUMMARY: We, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement 
(OSM), are announcing receipt of a proposed amendment to the 
Mississippi regulatory program (Mississippi Program) under the Surface 
Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA or the Act). 
Mississippi proposes revisions to its regulations regarding: 
definitions; identification of interests; lands eligible for remining; 
permit eligibility determination; review of permit applications; 
eligibility for provisionally issued permits; criteria for permit 
approval or denial; initial review and finding requirements for 
improvidently issued permits; notice requirements for improvidently 
issued permits; suspension or rescission requirements for improvidently 
issued permits; unanticipated events or conditions at remining sites; 
verification of ownership or control application information; who may 
challenge ownership or control listings and findings; how to challenge 
an ownership or control listing or finding; burden of proof for 
ownership or control challenges; written agency decision on challenges 
to ownership or control listings or findings; post-permit issuance 
requirements for regulatory authorities and other actions based on 
ownership, control, and violation information; post-permit issuance 
requirements for permittees; backfilling and grading: previously mined 
areas; and alternative enforcement. Mississippi intends to revise its 
program to be no less effective than the Federal regulations and to 
improve operational efficiency.
    This document gives the times and locations of the Mississippi 
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 p.m., 
c.d.t., October 19, 2012. If requested, we will hold a public hearing 
on the amendment on October 15, 2012. We will accept requests to speak 
at a hearing until 4 p.m., c.d.t. on October 4, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by SATS No. MS-023-FOR, 
by any of the following methods:
     Mail/Hand Delivery: Sherry Wilson, Director, Birmingham 
Field Office, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, 135 
Gemini Circle, Suite 215, Homewood, Alabama 35209; Telephone: (205) 
290-7282
     Fax: (205) 290-7280
     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 
Mississippi program, a listing of any scheduled public hearings, and 
all written comments received in response to this document, you must go 
to the address of our Birmingham Field Office listed above during 
normal business hours, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. You 
may receive one free copy of the amendment by contacting OSM's 
Birmingham Field Office or going to www.regulations.gov.
    Sherry Wilson, Director, Birmingham Field Office, Office of Surface 
Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, 135 Gemini Circle, Suite 215, 
Homewood, Alabama 35209, Telephone: (205) 290-7282, Email: 
swilson@osmre.gov.
    In addition, you may review a copy of the amendment during regular 
business hours at the following location: Mississippi Office of 
Geology, Department of Environmental Quality, 700 N. State Street, 
Jackson, Mississippi 39202, Telephone: (601) 961-5519.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sherry Wilson, Director, Birmingham 
Field Office. Telephone: (205) 290-7282. Email: swilson@osmre.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

I. Background on the Mississippi 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 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 Mississippi program effective September 4, 1980. You can find 
background information on the Mississippi program, including the 
Secretary's findings, the disposition of comments, and the conditions 
of approval of the Mississippi program in the September 4, 1980, 
Federal Register (45 FR 58520). You can also find later actions 
concerning the Mississippi program and program amendments at 30 CFR 
924.10, 924.15, 924.16, and 924.17.

II. Description of the Proposed Mississippi Amendment

    By email dated July 26, 2012 (Administrative Record No. MS-0423), 
Mississippi sent us an amendment to its Program under SMCRA (30 U.S.C. 
1201 et seq.). Mississippi submitted the proposed amendment in response 
to a September 30, 2009, letter (Administrative Record No. MS-0420-02) 
that OSM sent to Mississippi in accordance with 30 CFR 732.17(c), with 
an additional change submitted on its own initiative. Below is a 
summary of the changes proposed by Mississippi. 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.
    Mississippi proposes to revise its Surface Coal Mining Regulations 
in the following sections:

A. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Sec.  105. Definitions

    Mississippi proposes to modify this section by changing language, 
adding new language, or deleting language for

[[Page 58057]]

the definitions of Applicant Violator System or AVS; Knowing or 
Knowingly; Knowingly; Ownership or Control Link; Previously mined area; 
Slope; Violation; and Willfully.

B. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Sec.  2305. 
Identification of Interests

    Mississippi proposes to add additional language requiring the 
identification of interests for the applicant and operator, and the 
entry of the applicants information into the Applicant/Violator System 
(AVS).

C. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Sec.  2902. Lands 
Eligible for Remining

    Mississippi proposes to add a new section regarding lands eligible 
for remining.

D. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Sec.  3102. Permit 
Eligibility Determination

    Mississippi proposes to add a new section regarding permit 
eligibility determination.

E. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Sec.  3112. Review of 
Permit Applications

    Mississippi proposes to renumber section Sec.  3113 as Sec.  3112.

F. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Sec.  3113. Eligibility 
for Provisionally Issued Permits

    Mississippi proposes to add this new section regarding an 
applicant's eligibility for a provisionally issued permit.

G. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Sec.  3115. Criteria for 
Permit Approval or Denial

    Mississippi proposes to add new language regarding permit approval 
for remining operations.

H. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Sec.  3127. Initial 
Review and Finding Requirements for Improvidently Issued Permits

    Mississippi proposes to delete old language regarding general 
procedures for improvidently issued permits and insert new language 
regarding initial review and finding requirements for improvidently 
issued permits.

I. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Sec.  3128. Notice 
Requirements for Improvidently Issued Permits

    Mississippi has proposed to add a new section regarding the notice 
requirements for improvidently issued permits.

J. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Sec.  3129. Suspension 
or Rescission Requirements for Improvidently Issued Permits

    Mississippi proposes to change the language of this section 
regarding suspension and rescission requirements for improvidently 
issued permits.

K. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Sec.  3130. 
Unanticipated Events or Conditions at Remining Sites

    Mississippi proposes to add this new section regarding 
unanticipated events or conditions at remining sites.

L. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Sec.  3131. Verification 
of Ownership or Control Application Information

    Mississippi proposes to change language in this section regarding 
the determination of additional owners or controllers and their 
identification information for entry into AVS if the applicant or 
operators do not have previous mining experience.

M. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Sec.  3133. Who May 
Challenge Ownership or Control Listings and Findings

    Mississippi proposes to delete language in this section regarding 
the review of ownership or control and violation information, and add 
language regarding who may challenge an ownership or control listing or 
finding.

N. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Sec.  3135. How to 
Challenge an Ownership or Control Listing or Finding

    Mississippi proposes to delete language in this section regarding 
procedures for challenging ownership or control links in AVS and add 
language regarding how to challenge ownership or control listings or 
findings.

O. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Sec.  3136. Burden of 
Proof for Ownership or Control Challenges

    Mississippi proposes to delete language from this section regarding 
written agency decisions on challenges to ownership or control listings 
or findings and add new language regarding the burden of proof for 
ownership or control challenges.

P. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Sec.  3137. Written 
Agency Decision on Challenges to Ownership or Control Listings or 
Findings

    Mississippi proposes to delete language from this section regarding 
standards for challenging ownership or control links and the status of 
violations, and add new language regarding written agency decisions on 
challenges to ownership or control listings or findings.

Q. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Sec.  3138. Post-Permit 
Issuance Requirements for Regulatory Authorities and Other Actions 
Based on Ownership, Control, and Violation Information

    Mississippi proposes to add this new section regarding post-permit 
issuance requirements for regulatory authorities and other actions 
based on ownership, control, and violation information.

R. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Sec.  3139. Post-Permit 
Issuance Requirements for Permittees

    Mississippi proposes to add this new section regarding post-permit 
issuance requirements for permittees.

S. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Sec.  5396. Backfilling 
and Grading: Previously Mined Areas

    Mississippi proposes to add this new section regarding backfilling 
and grading requirements on previously mined areas.

T. Mississippi Surface Coal Mining Regulations Chapter 73. Alternative 
Enforcement

    Mississippi proposes to add this new chapter regarding alternative 
enforcement by adding new sections Sec.  7301 Scope, Sec.  7303 General 
Provisions, Sec.  7305 Criminal Penalties, and Sec.  7307 Civil Actions 
for Relief.

III. Public Comment Procedures

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

Electronic or Written Comments

    If you submit written comments, 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.

[[Page 58058]]

    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 in the docket for this 
rulemaking and considered.

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 p.m., c.d.t. on 
October 4, 2012. 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; 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 OSM 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 924

    Intergovernmental relations, Surface mining, Underground mining.

     Dated: July 31, 2012.
Paul J. Ehret,
Acting Regional Director, Mid-Continent Region.
[FR Doc. 2012-23077 Filed 9-18-12; 8:45 am]
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