TITLE 16. ECONOMIC REGULATION

PART 1. RAILROAD COMMISSION OF TEXAS

CHAPTER 12. COAL MINING REGULATIONS

SUBCHAPTER R. TEXAS ABANDONED MINE LAND RECLAMATION PROGRAM

16 TAC §§12.801 - 12.809, 12.811, 12.812, 12.814 - 12.816, 12.818 - 12.823

The Railroad Commission of Texas adopts amendments to 16 TAC §§12.801 - 12.809, 12.811, 12.812, 12.814 - 12.816, and 12.818 - 12.823, relating to Definitions; Texas Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund; Eligible Coal Lands and Water; Reclamation Objectives and Priorities; Utilities and Other Facilities; Limited Liability; Contractor Responsibility; Eligible Noncoal Lands and Water; Reclamation Priorities for Noncoal Program; Land Acquisition Authority - Noncoal; Lien Requirements; Entry and Consent to Reclaim; Appraisals; Liens; Entry for Emergency Reclamation; Land Eligible for Acquisition; Procedures for Acquisition; Acceptance of Gifts of Land; Management of Acquired Land; and Disposition of Reclaimed Lands, without changes from the proposed text as published in the August 23, 2019, issue of the Texas Register (44 TexReg 4422). Generally, the amendments align Commission rules with amendments to federal statutes and corresponding regulations adopted by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE).

The Commission received no comments on the proposed amendments.

Non-substantive changes are adopted in the following sections: §§12.801, 12.802, 12.806, 12.807, 12.809, 12.811, 12.812, 12.814, 12.816, 12.818, 12.820, 12.821, and 12.822. The changes in these sections capitalize "Commission," correct rule citations and cross-references, define terms used throughout the subchapter, and clarify existing language.

Amendments to §12.803 align the section with 30 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §874.12, which allows prior balance replacement funds to be used in cases where the forfeited bond is insufficient to pay the total cost of reclamation. The amendments to §12.803 also include non-substantive corrections.

Amendments to §12.804 update the section to incorporate changes made in 2006 to Section 403 of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act ("SMCRA" or the "Federal Act") (30 U.S.C. §1233). Those changes, and the corresponding amendments to federal regulations found in 30 CFR §874.13, revised expenditure priorities and clarified how reclamation programs should address Priority 3 reclamation objectives. The amendments also update the reference to OSMRE's "Final Guidelines for Reclamation Programs and Projects."

Amendments to §12.805 align the section with 30 CFR §874.14, which was amended in 2009 to change the title of the section from "Utilities and Other Facilities" to "Water Supply Restoration." The changes to 30 CFR §874.14 also added a definition of "water supply restoration project," which has been incorporated in the amendments to subsection (a) of §12.805. The amendments to §12.805 also include non-substantive updates.

Amendments to §12.808 incorporate changes made to 30 CFR §875.14 in 2009. If eligible coal problems are found or occur after certification, the amendments require the Commission to submit to OSMRE a plan that describes the approach and funds that will be used to address those problems in a timely manner rather than addressing the problem with state share funds no later than the next grant cycle, which was the former requirement. The amendments to §12.808 also include non-substantive updates and clarifications.

Amendments to §12.815 reflect the language of 30 CFR §882.12, which requires the appraisal of the private land to be reclaimed to state not only the estimated fair market value of the land as adversely affected by past mining, but also the estimated fair market value of the property as reclaimed. The amendments to §12.815 also include non-substantive updates and clarifications.

Amendments to §12.819 align the requirements for acquisition of coal refuse disposal sites with the requirements found in 30 CFR §879.11 such that acquisition of coal refuse disposal sites is permissible if approved in advance by OSMRE. The amendments to §12.819 also include non-substantive updates and clarifications.

Amendments to §12.823 incorporate a requirement from 30 CFR §879.15 that all moneys received from the disposal of reclaimed land shall be returned to OSMRE. The amendments to §12.823 also include non-substantive updates.

The Commission adopts the amendments under Texas Natural Resources Code, §134.013, which authorizes the Commission to promulgate rules pertaining to surface coal mining operations, and Texas Natural Resources Code §134.141, which allows the Commission to take any action necessary to ensure Texas' participation to the fullest extent practicable in the abandoned mine reclamation fund established by the federal act. Section 134.141 also authorizes the Commission to adopt rules that (1) establish priorities that meet the terms of the federal act for the expenditure of money in the fund; (2) designate the land and water eligible for reclamation or abatement expenditures; (3) submit reclamation plans, annual projects, and applications to the appropriate authorities under that Act; and (4) administer money received for abandoned mine reclamation or related purposes.

Statutory authority: Texas Natural Resources Code, §134.013 and §134.141.

Cross-reference to statute: Texas Natural Resources Code, Chapter 134.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the adoption and found it to be a valid exercise of the agency's legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on November 19, 2019.

TRD-201904361

Haley Cochran

Rules Attorney, Office of General Counsel

Railroad Commission of Texas

Effective date: December 9, 2019

Proposal publication date: August 23, 2019

For further information, please call: (512) 475-1295