§ 880-X-8J-.07. Permits Incorporating Variances From Approximate Original Contour Restoration Requirements For Steep Slope Mining
(1) This Rule applies to non-mountaintop removal, steep slope surface coal mining and reclamation operations where the operation is not to be reclaimed to achieve the approximate original contour required by Rules 880-X-10C-.52 - 880-X-10C-.56 or 880-X-10D-.48 - 880-X-10D-.50 and 880-X-10I-.04(b).
(2) The objective of this Rule is to allow for a variance from approximate original contour restoration requirements on steep slopes for surface coal mining and reclamation operations to --
(a) Improve watershed control of lands within the permit area and on adjacent lands; and
(b) Make land within the permit area, after reclamation, suitable for an industrial, commercial, residential, agricultural, forestry or public use, including recreational facilities.
(3) A permit for surface mining activities incorporating a variance from the requirements for restoration of the affected lands to their approximate original contour, may be issued, only if the State Regulatory Authority finds, in writing, on the basis of a complete application, that all of the following requirements are met:
(a) The applicant has demonstrated that the purpose of the variance is to make the lands to be affected within the permit area suitable for an industrial, commercial, agricultural, forestry, residential, or public use postmining land use.
(b) The proposed use, after consultation with the appropriate land-use planning agencies, constitutes an equal or better economic or public use.
(c) The applicant has demonstrated compliance with the requirements for acceptable alternative postmining land uses of Rule 880-X-10C-.66 or 880-X-10D-.64.
(d) The applicant has demonstrated that the watershed of lands within the proposed permit area and adjacent areas will be improved by the operations. The watershed will only be deemed improved if --
1. There will be a reduction in the amount of total suspended solids or other pollutants discharged to ground or surface waters from the permit areas as compared to such discharges prior to mining, so as to improve public or private uses or the ecology of such waters; or, there will be reduced floor hazards within the watershed containing the permit area by reduction of the peak flow discharges from precipitation events; and
2. The total volume of flows from the proposed permit area, during every season of the year, will not vary in a way that adversely affects the ecology of any surface water or any existing or planned use of surface or ground water.
(e) The applicant has demonstrated that the owner of the surface of the lands within the permit area has knowingly requested, in writing, as part of the application, that a variance be granted. The request shall be made separately from any surface owner consent given for the operations under Rule 880-X-8D-.07 or 880-X-8G-.07 and shall show an understanding that the variance could not be granted without the surface owner's request.
(f) The applicant has demonstrated that the proposed operations will be conducted in compliance with the requirements of Rule 880-X-10I-.05.
(g) All other requirements of the Act and these regulations shall be met by the proposed operations.
(4) If a variance is granted under this Rule --
(a) The requirements of Rule 880-X-10I-.05 shall be made a specific condition of the permit.
(b) The permit shall be specifically marked as containing a variance from approximate original contour.
(5) Any permits incorporating a variance issued under this Rule shall be reviewed by the State Regulatory Authority to evaluate the progress and development of the mining activities, to establish that the operator is proceeding in accordance with the terms of the variance --
(a) Within the sixth month preceding the third year from the date of its issuance;
(b) Before each permit renewal; and
(c) Not later than the middle of each permit term.
(6) If the permittee demonstrates to the State Regulatory Authority at any of the times specified in Paragraph (5) of this Rule that the operations involved have been and continue to be conducted in compliance with the terms and conditions of the permit, the requirements of the Act and these regulations, the review required at that time need not be held.
(7) The terms and conditions of a permit incorporating a variance under this Rule may be modified at any time by the State Regulatory Authority, if it determines that more stringent measures are necessary to insure that the operations involved are conducted in compliance with the requirements of the Act and these regulations.
Statutory Authority: Code of Ala. 1975, §§ 9-16-71, 73, 74, 75, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 88, 90, 91, 92.
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