[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 215 (Tuesday, November 6, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 66574-66577]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-27086]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement

30 CFR Part 943

[SATS No. TX-065-FOR; Docket ID: OSM-2012-0019]


Texas 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: We, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement 
(OSM), are announcing receipt of a proposed amendment to the Texas 
regulatory program (Texas program) under the Surface Mining Control and 
Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA or the Act). Texas proposes revisions to 
its regulations regarding: definitions; review of permit applications; 
criteria for permit approval or denial; commission review of 
outstanding permits; challenge of ownership or control and applicant/
violator system procedures; identification of interests and compliance 
information; mining in previously mined areas; conditions of permits; 
revegetation standards; cessation orders; alternative enforcement; 
application approval and notice; permit revisions; permit renewals; 
transfer, assignment or sale of permit rights; and requirements for new 
permits for persons succeeding to rights granted under a permit. Texas 
intends to revise its program to be no less effective than the Federal 
regulations and improve operational efficiency.
    This document gives the times and locations that the Texas 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.

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DATES: We will accept written comments on this amendment until 4:00 
p.m., c.d.t., December 6, 2012. If requested, we will hold a public 
hearing on the amendment on December 3, 2012. We will accept requests 
to speak at a hearing until 4:00 p.m., c.d.t. on November 21, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by SATS No. TX-065-FOR, 
by any of the following methods:
     Mail/Hand Delivery: Alfred L. Clayborne, Director, Tulsa 
Field Office, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, 
1645 South 101st East Avenue, Suite 145, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74128-4629.
     Fax: (918) 581-6419.
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: 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 Texas 
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 OSM's Tulsa Field Office or going 
to www.regulations.gov.

Alfred L. Clayborne, Director, Tulsa Field Office, Office of Surface 
Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, 1645 South 101st East Avenue, Suite 
145, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74128-4629, Telephone: (918) 581-6430, Email: 
aclayborne@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, Capitol Station, P.O. Box 12967, Austin, 
Texas 78711-2967, Telephone: (512) 463-6900.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Alfred L. Clayborne, Director, Tulsa 
Field Office. Telephone: (918) 581-6430. Email: aclayborne@osmre.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

I. Background on the Texas 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 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.

II. Description of the Proposed Amendment

    By email dated February 14, 2012 (Administrative Record No. TX-
701), Texas sent us an amendment (TX-060-FOR) to its program under 
SMCRA (30 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.). Texas submitted the proposed amendment 
in response to a September 30, 2009, letter (Administrative Record No. 
TX-665) that OSM sent to Texas in accordance with 30 CFR 732.17(c) with 
additional changes submitted on its own initiative. The proposed rule 
was published, and its public comment period and opportunity for public 
hearing on the proposed amendment was announced in the Federal Register 
(77 FR 25949) on May 2, 2012. During our review of the amendment, we 
found several sections that were less effective than their counterpart 
Federal regulations. A list of the concerns was sent to Texas via a 
letter dated July 18, 2012 (Administrative Record No. TX-701.04). By 
letter dated August 09, 2012 (Administrative Record No. TX-702), Texas 
responded to the July 18, 2012, letter by withdrawing its amendment 
(TX-060-FOR) regarding ownership and control changes.
    By letter dated August 09, 2012 (Administrative Record No. TX-702), 
Texas sent us a new amendment to its program under SMCRA (30 U.S.C. 
1201 et seq.). This amendment was a corrected version of its withdrawn 
amendment (TX-060-FOR) as discussed in the previous paragraph. Texas 
submitted this proposed amendment in response to a September 30, 2009, 
letter (Administrative Record No. TX-665) that OSM sent to Texas in 
accordance with 30 CFR 732.17(c) with additional changes submitted on 
its own initiative. Below is a summary of the changes proposed by 
Texas. 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.
    Texas proposes to revise its regulation at 16 Texas Administrative 
Code (TAC) at the following sections:

A. Sec.  12.3 Definitions

    Texas proposes to modify this section by revising, adding, or 
deleting language for the definitions of Applicant/Violator System; 
Control or controller; Knowing or knowingly; Lands eligible for 
remining; Own, owner, or ownership; Owned or controlled and owns and 
controls; Remining; Violation; Violation, failure, or refusal; 
Violation notice; and Willful or willfully.

B. Sec.  12.100 Responsibilities

    Texas proposes to remove the word ``renewal'' from the provision 
that places the burden on the applicant to establish that an 
application is in compliance with all the Commission's requirements.

C. Sec.  12.116 Identification of Interests and Compliance Information 
(Surface Mining)

    Texas proposes to delete language in this section regarding 
identification of interests and compliance information and replace it 
with new language regarding certifying and updating existing permit 
information, permit applicant and operator information, permit history 
information, property interest information, violation information, and 
commission actions.

D. Sec.  12.155 Identification of Interests

    Texas proposes to delete this section and incorporate the language 
into Sec.  12.156 for efficiency.

E. Sec.  12.156 Identification of Interest and Compliance Information 
(Underground Mining)

    Texas proposes to add language to this section regarding 
identification of interests, specifically: certifying and updating 
permit application information, permit applicant and operator 
information, permit history information, property interest information, 
violation information, and commission actions.

[[Page 66576]]

F. Sec.  12.206 Mining in Previously Mined Areas

    Texas proposes to add new language regarding application 
requirements for operations on lands eligible for remining.

G. Sec.  12.215 Review of Permit Applications

    Texas proposes to add language requiring the entry and updating of 
data into AVS. Additionally, language is being added regarding the 
review of permit history, review of compliance history, and making a 
permit eligibility determination based on this information.

H. Sec.  12.216 Criteria for Permit Approval or Denial

    Texas proposes to add language stating that permits related to 
remining must contain lands eligible for remining, an identification of 
potential environmental and safety problems, and mitigation plans that 
address any potential environmental or safety problems.

I. Sec.  12.225 Commission Review of Outstanding Permits

    Texas proposes to add language regarding written findings and 
preliminary findings for improvidently issued permits. Additionally, 
changes are proposed regarding permit suspension and rescission 
timeframes and appeal rights.

J. Sec.  12.234 Challenge of Ownership or Control, Information on 
Ownership and Control, and Violations, and Applicant/Violator System 
Procedures

    Texas proposes to renumber its Sec.  12.234 as Sec.  12.235 and add 
new language to create a new Sec.  12.234 regarding ownership and 
control challenges--specifically--the applicability, procedures, burden 
of proof, written agency decisions, and post-permit issuance 
information requirements.

K. Sec.  12.395 Revegetation: Standards for Success (Surface Mining) 
and Sec.  12.560 Revegetation: Standards for Success (Underground 
Mining)

    Texas proposes to delete language in this section regarding 
liability periods and replace it with new language that is no less 
effective than the Federal regulations.

L. Sec.  12.676 Alternative Enforcement

    Texas proposes to add new language regarding alternative 
enforcement, specifically for general provisions, criminal penalties, 
and civil actions for relief.

M. Sec.  12.677 Cessation Orders

    Texas proposes to add new language requiring written notification 
to the permittee, the operator, and anyone listed or identified as an 
owner or controller of an operation, within 60 days of issuing a 
cessation order.

N. Sec.  12.221 Conditions of Permits: Environment, Public Health, and 
Safety; Sec.  12.239 Application Approval and Notice; Sec.  12.226 
Permit revisions; Sec.  12.228 Permit Renewals: Completed Applications; 
Sec.  12.232 Transfer, Assignment or Sale of Permit Rights: Obtaining 
Approval; and Sec.  12.233 Requirements for New Permits for Persons 
Succeeding to Rights Granted Under a Permit

    Texas proposes to make minor, nonsubstantial reference changes in 
these sections.

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.

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.
    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 4:00 p.m., c.d.t. on 
November 21, 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 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 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

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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 943

    Intergovernmental relations, Surface mining, Underground mining.

    Dated: August 16, 2012.
Ervin J. Barchenger,
Regional Director, Mid-Continent Region.
[FR Doc. 2012-27086 Filed 11-5-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-05-P