§ 880-X-8J-.04. Experimental Practices Mining
(1) Paragraphs (2) - (11) of this Rule apply to any person who conducts or intends to conduct surface coal mining and reclamation operations under a permit authorizing the use of alternative mining practices on an experimental basis if the practices require a variance from the environmental protection performance standards of Chapter 880-X-10.
(2) The purpose of this Rule is to provide requirements for the permitting of surface coal mining and reclamation operations that encourage advances in mining and reclamation practices or allow postmining land use for industrial, commercial, residential or public use (including recreational facilities) on an experimental basis.
(3) Experimental practice, as used in the Rule, means the use of alternative surface coal mining and reclamation operation practices for experimental or research purposes. Experimental practices need not comply with specific environmental protection performance standards of Chapter 880-X-10 if approved pursuant to this Rule.
(4) No person shall engage in or maintain any experimental practice, unless that practice is first approved in a permit by the State Regulatory Authority, and the Director of OSM.
(5) Any person who desires to conduct an experimental practice shall submit a permit application for approval by the State Regulatory Authority, and the Director of OSM. The permit application shall contain appropriate descriptions, maps, plans and data which show:
(a) The nature of the experimental practice, including a description of the performance standards for which variances are requested, the duration of the experimental practice and any special monitoring which will be conducted:
(b) How the use of the experimental practice:
1. Encourages advances in mining and reclamation technology, or
2. Allows a post-mining land use for industrial, commercial, residential or public use (including recreational facilities), on an experimental basis.
(c) That the mining and reclamation operations proposed for using an experimental practice are not larger or more numerous than necessary to determine the effectiveness and economic feasibility of the experimental practice;
(d) That the experimental practice --
1. Is potentially more or at least as environmentally protective, during and after the proposed mining and reclamation operations, as those required under Chapter 880-X-10 of these regulations; and
2. Will not reduce the protection afforded public health and safety below that provided by the requirements of Chapter 880-X-10 of these regulations.
(e) That the applicant will conduct monitoring with respect to the experimental practice during and after the operations involved. The monitoring program shall ensure the collection, analysis, and reporting of reliable data that are sufficient to enable the Regulatory Authority and the Director of OSM to:
1. Evaluate the effectiveness of experimental practice, and
2. Identify, as soon as possible potential risks to the environment and public health and safety from the use of the experimental practice during and after mining.
(6) Each application shall set forth the environmental protection performance standards of Chapter 880-X-10 which will be implemented, in the event the objective of the experimental practice is a failure.
(7) All experimental practices for which variances are sought shall be specifically identified through newspaper advertisements by the applicant as required under Rule 880-X-8K-.05.
(8) No permit authorizing an experimental practice shall be issued until the Regulatory Authority first finds in writing and the Director of OSM then concurs that:
(a) The experimental practice meets all of the requirements of Paragraphs (5)(b) through (5)(e) of this Rule;
(b) The experimental practice is based on a clearly defined set of objectives which can reasonably be expected to be achieved; and
(c) The permit contains conditions which specifically --
1. Limit the experimental practice authorized by the State Regulatory Authority;
2. Impose enforceable alternative environmental protection requirements; and
3. Require the person to conduct periodic monitoring recording and reporting program set forth in the application with such additional requirements as the State Regulatory Authority and the Director of OSM may require to ensure the protection of the public health and safety and the environment.
(9) Each permit which authorizes the use of an experimental practice shall be reviewed in its entirety by the Regulatory Authority at a frequency set forth in the approved permit, but no less frequently than every two and one-half years. After review, the State Regulatory Authority shall require by order, supported by written findings, any reasonable revision or modification of the permit provisions necessary to ensure that the operations involved are conducted to protect fully the environmental and public health and safety. Any person who is or may be adversely affected by the order shall be provided with an opportunity for a hearing as established in the Act.
(10) Revisions or modifications to an experimental practice shall be processed in accordance with the requirements of Rule 880-X-8M-.06, except that, revisions which propose significant alterations in the experimental practice shall also require concurrence of the Director of OSM.
(11) Experimental practices granting variances from the special environmental protection performance standards of Chapter 880-X-10 shall be approved only after consultation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service.
Author: Randall C. Johnson(May 20, 1982; Amended: November 14, 1989; effective March 7, 1991.)
Statutory Authority: Code of Ala. 1975, §§ 9-16-71, 73, 74, 75, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 90, 91, 92.
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