[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 61 (Friday, March 31, 2017)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 16010-16012]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-06397]



Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement

30 CFR Part 946

[SATS No. VA-128-FOR; Docket ID: OSM-2016-0007; S1D1S SS08011000 
SX066A00 178S180110; S2D2D SS08011000 SX066A00 17XS501520]

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.


SUMMARY: We, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement 
(OSMRE), are 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, Virginia seeks to revise its program regulations to 
require Virginia to enter permit information into the Applicant 
Violator System (AVS) database upon receipt of a complete permit 
application and require Virginia to conduct a final compliance review 
between the application approval and permit issuance.
    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.), May 1, 2017. If requested, we 
will hold a public hearing on the amendment on April 25, 2017. We will 
accept requests to speak at a hearing until 4:00 p.m., e.s.t. on April 
17, 2017.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by SATS No. VA-128-FOR, 
by any of the following methods:
     Mail/Hand Delivery: Mr. William Winters, Acting Field 
Office Director, Knoxville Field Office, Office of Surface Mining 
Reclamation and Enforcement, 710 Locust Street, 2nd Floor, Knoxville, 
Tennessee 37902.
     Fax: 865-545-4111.
     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

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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 
    Mr. William Winters, Acting 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. 170. 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 24219. Telephone: (276) 523-8271. Email: 
[email protected].

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. William Winters, Field Office 
Director, Knoxville Field Office. Telephone: (865) 545-4103 ext 170. 
Email: [email protected].


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 laws and regulations 
that govern surface coal mining and reclamation operations in 
accordance with the Act and consistent with the Federal regulations. 
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 of the Virginia program 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 April 29, 2016 (Administrative Record No. VA 2024), 
Virginia sent us an amendment to its program under SMCRA (30 U.S.C. 
1201 et seq.).
    In 2015, OSMRE conducted an annual review of the Virginia 
regulatory program. OSMRE determined that Virginia's regulations 
required two additional components regarding the AVS in order to 
conform with Federal regulations at 30 CFR 773.8 and 773.12. The AVS is 
an automated information system owned and operated by OSMRE. 
Information on applicants, permittees, operators, applications and 
permits as well as unabated or uncorrected environmental violations of 
SMCRA is maintained in this nationwide database for OSMRE's Federal and 
State programs. The primary purpose of the AVS is to assist OSMRE and 
States in making permit eligibility determination required under 
section 510(c) of SMCRA for applicants of surface coal mining permits. 
Section 510(c) of SMCRA prohibits issuance of a new permit to any 
applicant who owns or controls mining operations having unabated or 
uncorrected violations anywhere in the United States until those 
violations are abated or corrected or are in the process of being 
abated or corrected to the satisfaction of the agency with jurisdiction 
over the violation. The data contained in AVS also assists OSMRE and 
States in determining the eligibility of bidders on Abandoned Mine Land 
program contracts under Title IV of SMCRA. Section 773.8 involves 
general provisions for review of permit application information and 
entry into the AVS and section 773.12 involves permit eligibility 
    Accordingly, Virginia now seeks to amend its State program and is 
proposing changes to its State regulations as summarized below.
    A. Virginia proposes to amend its State program to add provisions 
to its Virginia Administrative Code (VAC) at 4 VAC 25-130-773.15(a)(3), 
Review of Permit Applications, to require Virginia to enter permit 
information into the Federal AVS system after receiving and reviewing a 
complete permit application. Virginia asserts that this change is 
consistent with the Federal requirements of 30 CFR 773.8.
    B. Virginia proposes to add a provision to its State program to 
specify that the final compliance review conducted prior to permit 
issuance shall occur no more than five business days before issuance. 
The regulations at 4 VAC 25-130-773.15(e), Review of Permit 
Applications, requires Virginia to consider any new information 
concerning violations and business structures submitted during the 
permit review process. The proposed amendment would add language to 
that section of the code specifying the maximum period of five business 
days between that review and permit issuance. Virginia asserts that 
this change is consistent with the Federal requirements at 773.12(c).
    The full text of the program amendment is available for you to read 
at the locations listed above under ADDRESSES or at 

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 
    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

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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 
April 17, 2017. 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: March 22, 2017.
Thomas D. Shope,
Regional Director, Appalachian Region.
[FR Doc. 2017-06397 Filed 3-30-17; 8:45 am]