Section 880-X-7B-.11 - Submission And Processing Of Requests For Valid Existing Rights Determinations (Alabama Administrative Code)

§ 880-X-7B-.11. Submission And Processing Of Requests For Valid Existing Rights Determinations

(1) All valid existing rights determinations shall be made by the regulatory authority other than requests pertaining to Federal land protected under Rule 880-X-7B-.06(a) and (b) lying within a national forest, national park, wildlife refuge or the like. Valid existing right shall be determined by the Office of Surface Mining.

(2) What you must submit as part of a request for a valid existing rights determination. You must submit a request for a valid existing rights determination to the appropriate regulatory authority under paragraph (a) of this section if you intend to conduct surface coal mining operations on the basis of valid existing rights under Rule 880-X-7B-.06 or wish to confirm the right to do so. You may submit this request before preparing and submitting an application for a permit or permit revision for the land, unless the applicable regulatory program provides otherwise.

(a) Requirements for property rights demonstration. You must provide a property rights demonstration under paragraph (a) of the definition of valid existing rights at Rule 880-X-2A-.06 if your request relies upon the good faith/all permits standard or the needed for and adjacent standard in paragraph (b) of the definition of valid existing rights at Rule 880-X-2A-.06. This demonstration must include the following items:

1. A legal description of the land to which your request pertains.

2. Complete documentation of the character and extent of your current interests in the surface and mineral estates of the land to which your request pertains.

3. A complete chain of title for the surface and mineral estates of the land to which your request pertains.

4. A description of the nature and effect of each title instrument that forms the basis for your request, including any provision pertaining to the type or method of mining or mining-related surface disturbances and facilities.

5. A description of the type and extent of surface coal mining operations that you claim the right to conduct, including the method of mining, any mining-related surface activities and facilities, and an explanation of how those operations would be consistent with State property law.

6. Complete documentation of the nature and ownership, as of the date that the land came under the protection of Rule 880-X-7B-.06 or Ala. Code § 9-16-96(e), of all property rights for the surface and mineral estates of the land to which your request pertains.

7. Names and addresses of the current owners of the surface and mineral estates of the land to which your request pertains.

8. If the coal interests have been severed from other property interests, documentation that you have notified and provided reasonable opportunity for the owners of other property interests in the land to which your request pertains to comment on the validity of your property rights claims.

9. Any comments that you receive in response to the notification provided under paragraph (b)(1)(viii) of this section.

(b) Requirements for good faith/all permits standard. If your request relies upon the good faith/all permits standard in paragraph (b)(1) of the definition of valid existing rights at Rule 880-X-2A-.06, you must submit the information required under paragraph (b)(1) of this section. You also must submit the following information about permits, licenses, and authorizations for surface coal mining operations on the land to which your request pertains:

1. Approval and issuance dates and identification numbers for any permits, licenses, and authorizations that you or a predecessor in interest obtained before the land came under the protection of Rule 880-X-7B-.06 or Code of Ala. 1975, § 9-16-96(e).

2. Application dates and identification numbers for any permits, licenses, and authorizations for which you or a predecessor in interest submitted an application before the land came under the protection of Rule 880-X-7B-.06 or Code of Ala. 1975, § 9-16-96(e).

3. An explanation of any other good faith effort that you or a predecessor in interest made to obtain the necessary permits, licenses, and authorizations as of the date that the land came under the protection of Rule 880-X-7B-.06 or Code of Ala. 1975, § 9-16-96(e).

(c) Requirements for needed for and adjacent standard. If your request relies upon the needed for and adjacent standard in paragraph (b)(2) of the definition of valid existing rights at Rule 880-X-2A-.06 you must submit the information required under paragraph (b)(1) of this section. In additional, you must explain how and why the land is needed for and immediately adjacent to the operation upon which your request is based, including a demonstration that prohibiting expansion of the operation onto the land would unfairly impact the viability of the operation as originally planned before the land came under the protection of Rule 880-X-7B-.06 or Code of Ala. 1975, § 9-16-96(e).

(d) Requirements for standards for mine roads. If your request relies upon one of the standards for roads in paragraphs (c)(1) through (c)(3) of the definition of valid existing rights at Rule 880-X-2A-.06, you must submit satisfactory documentation that:

1. The road existed when the land upon which it is located came under the protection of Rule 880-X-7B-.06 or Code of Ala. 1975, § 9-16-96(e), and you have a legal right to use the road for surface coal mining operations;

2. A properly recorded right-of-way or easement for a road in that location existed when the land came under the protection of Rule 880-X-7B-.06 or Code of Ala. 1975, § 9-16-96(e), and under the document creating the right-of-way or easement and under any subsequent conveyances, you have a legal right to use or construct a road across that right-of-way or easement to conduct surface coal mining operations; or

3. A valid permit for use or construction of a road in that location for surface coal mining operations existed when the land came under the protection of Rule 880-X-7B-.06 or Code of Ala. 1975, § 9-16-96(e).

(3) Initial review of request.

(a) The regulatory authority must conduct an initial review to determine whether your request includes all applicable components of the submission requirements of paragraph (b) of this section. This review pertains only to the completeness of the request, not the legal or technical adequacy of the materials submitted.

(b) If your request does not include all applicable components of the submission requirements of paragraph (b) of this section, the regulatory authority must notify you and establish a reasonable time for submission of the missing information.

(c) When your request includes all applicable components of the submission requirements of paragraph (b) of this section, the regulatory authority must implement the notice and comment requirements of paragraph (d) of this section.

(d) If you do not provide information that the regulatory authority requests under paragraph (c)(2) of this section within the time specified or as subsequently extended, the regulatory authority must issue a determination that you have not demonstrated valid existing rights, as provided in paragraph (e)(4) of this section.

(4) Notice and comment requirements and procedures.

(1) Upon notice from the regulatory authority that your request satisfies the completeness requirements of paragraph (c) of this section, you must publish a notice in the newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the land is located inviting comment on the merits of the request. If your request involves Federal lands within an area listed in Rule 880-X-7B-.06 or Code of Ala. 1975, § 9-16-96(e) the Office of Surface Mining will be responsible for publishing a similar notice in the Federal Register. Each notice must include:

1. The location of the land to which the request pertains.

2. A description of the type of surface coal mining operations planned.

3. A reference to and brief description of the applicable standard(s) under the definition of valid existing rights in Rule 880-X-2A-.06.

(i) If your request relies upon the good faith/all permits standard or the needed for and adjacent standard in paragraph (b) of the definition of valid existing rights in Rule 880-X-2A-.06, the notice also must include a description of the property rights that you claim and the basis for your claim.

(ii) If your request relies upon the standard in paragraph (c)(1) of the definition of valid existing rights in Rule 880-X-2A-.06, the notice also must include a description of the basis for your claim that the road existed when the land came under the protection of Rule 880-X-7B-.06 or Code of Ala. 1975, § 9-16-96(e). In addition, the notice must include a description of the basis for your claim that you have a legal right to use that road for surface coal mining operations.

(iii) If your request relies upon the standard in paragraph (c)(2) of the definition of valid existing rights in Rule 880-X-2A-.06, the notice also must include a description of the basis for your claim that a properly recorded right-of-way or easement for a road in that location existed when the land came under the protection of Rule 880-X-7B-.06 or Code of Ala. 1975, § 9-16-96(e). In addition, the notice must include a description of the basis for your claim that, under the document creating the right-of-way or easement and under any subsequent conveyances, you have a legal right to use or construct a road across the right-of-way or easement to conduct surface coal mining operations.

4. If your request relies upon one or more of the standards in paragraphs (b), (c)(1), and (c)(2) of the definition of valid existing rights in Rule 880-X-2A-.06, a statement that the regulatory authority will not make a decision on the merits of your request if, by the close of the comment period under this notice or the notice required by paragraph (d)(3) of this section, a person with a legal interest in the land initiates appropriate legal action in the proper venue to resolve any differences concerning the validity or interpretation of the deed, lease, easement, or other documents that form the basis of your claim.

5. A description of the procedures that the regulatory authority will follow in processing your request.

6. The closing date of the comment period, which must be a minimum of 30 days after the publication date of the notice.

7. A statement that interested persons may obtain a 30-day extension of the comment period upon request.

8. The name and address of the regulatory authority office where a copy of the request is available for public inspection and to which comments and requests for extension of the comment permit should be sent.

(b) The regulatory authority must promptly provide a copy of the notice required under paragraph (d)(1) of this section to:

1. All reasonably locatable owners of surface and mineral estates in the land included in your request.

2. The owner of the feature causing the land to come under the protection of Rule 880-X-7B-.06, and, when applicable, the regulatory authority with primary jurisdiction over the feature with respect to the values causing the land to come under the protection of Rule 880-X-7B-.06. For example, both the landowner and the State Historic Preservation Office must be notified if surface coal mining operations would adversely impact any site listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As another example, both the surface owner and the National Park Service must be notified if the request includes non-federal lands within the authorized boundaries of a unit of the National Park System.

(c) The letter transmitting the notice required under paragraph (d)(2) of this section must provide a 30-day comment period, starting from the date of service of the letter, and specify that another 30 days is available upon request. At its discretion, the regulatory authority responsible for the determination of valid existing rights may grant additional time for good cause upon request. The regulatory authority need not consider comments received after the closing date of the comment period.

(5) How a decision will be made.

(a) The regulatory authority will review the materials submitted under paragraph (b) of this section, comments received under paragraph (d) of this section, and any other relevant reasonably available information to determine whether the record is sufficiently complete and adequate to support a decision on the merits of the request. If not, the regulatory authority will notify you in writing, of the inadequacy of the record and requesting submittal, within a specified reasonable time, of any additional information deemed necessary to remedy the inadequacy.

(b) Once the record is complete and adequate, the responsible regulatory authority will issue a determination incorporating findings of facts and conclusions of law as to whether you have or have not satisfied all applicable elements of the definition of valid existing rights in Rule 880-X-2A-.06.

(c) Impact of property rights disagreements. This paragraph applies only when your request relies upon one or more of the standards in paragraphs (b), (c)(1), and (c)(2) of the definition of valid existing rights in Rule 880-X-2A-.06.

1. The regulatory authority must issue a determination that you have not demonstrated valid existing rights if your property rights claims are the subject of pending litigation in a court or administrative body with jurisdiction over the property rights in question. The regulatory authority will make this determination without prejudice, meaning that you may refile the request once the property rights dispute is finally adjudicated. This paragraph applies only to situations in which legal action has been initiated as of the closing date of the comment period under paragraph (d)(1) or (d)(3) of this section.

2. If the record indicates disagreement as to the accuracy of your property rights claims, but this disagreement is not the subject of pending litigation in a court or administrative regulatory authority of competent jurisdiction, the regulatory authority must evaluate the merits of the information in the record and determine whether you have demonstrated that the requisite property rights exist under paragraph (a), (c)(1), or (c)(2) of the definition of valid existing rights as appropriate. The regulatory authority must then proceed with the decision process under paragraph (e)(2) of this section.

(d) The regulatory authority must issue a determination that you have not demonstrated valid existing rights if you do not submit information that the regulatory authority requests under paragraph (c)(2) or (e)(1) of this section within the time specified or as subsequently extended. The regulatory authority will make this determination without prejudice such that you may refile a revised request at any time.

(e) After making a determination, the regulatory authority must:

1. Provide a copy of the determination, together with an explanation of appeal rights and procedures, to you, to the owner or owners of the land to which the determination applies, to the owner of the feature causing the land to come under the protection of Rule 880-X-7B-.06, and when applicable, to the regulatory authority with primary jurisdiction over the feature with respect to the values that caused the land to come under the protection of Rule 880-X-7B-.06.

2. Publish notice of the determination in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the land is located. Alternatively, the regulatory authority may require that you publish this notice and provide a copy of the published notice to the regulatory authority. Notices of determination involving Federal lands will be subject to publication in the Federal Register by the Office of Surface Mining.

(6) Administrative and judicial review. A determination that you have or do not have valid existing rights is subject to administrative and judicial review as provided for in Chapter 880-X-5A of these regulations.

(7) Availability of records. The regulatory authority responsible for processing a request subject to notice and comment under paragraph (d) of this section must make a copy of that request available to the public in the same manner as the regulatory authority must make permit applications available to the public under Rule 880-X-8K-.05(4) of these regulations. In addition, the regulatory authority must make records associated with that request, and any subsequent determination under paragraph (e) of this section, available to the public in accordance with the requirements and procedures of Rule 880-X-11B-.02 of these regulations.

Author: Randall C. Johnson

(New Rule: Filed August 23, 2001; effective September 27, 2001.)

On February 5, 2002, the Office of Surface Mining approved this rulemaking adopted by the commission on August 16, 2001. The effective date of this rule will be March 7, 2002.

Statutory Authority: Code of Ala. 1975, § 9-16-71 et. seq., as amended.

Disclaimer: Lawrina has made every attempt to ensure the information on this page is accurate, but we cannot guarantee that Section 880-X-7B-.11 Submission And Processing Of Requests For Valid Existing Rights Determinations is a replica of the current official text. Please use the external links to official resources for the latest version.

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