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§ 30.56a. Designating areas unsuitable for coal refuse disposal

Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes and Consolidated StatutesTitle 52 P.S. Mines and MiningEffective: December 3, 2019

Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes and Consolidated Statutes
Title 52 P.S. Mines and Mining (Refs & Annos)
Chapter 2. Coal Refuse Disposal Control Act (Refs & Annos)
Effective: December 3, 2019
52 P.S. § 30.56a
§ 30.56a. Designating areas unsuitable for coal refuse disposal
(a) Pursuant to the procedures set forth in subsection (f) of this section, the department shall designate an area as unsuitable for all or certain types of coal refuse disposal if the department determines that reclamation pursuant to the requirements of this act is not technologically and economically feasible.
(b) Upon petition pursuant to subsection (f) of this section, a surface area may be designated unsuitable for all or certain types of coal refuse disposal operations if such operations will:
(1) be incompatible with existing State or local land use plans or programs;
(2) affect fragile or historic lands in which such operations could result in significant damage to important historic, cultural, scientific, and esthetic values and natural systems;
(3) affect renewable resource lands in which such operations could result in a substantial loss or reduction of long-range productivity of water supply or of food or fiber products, and such lands to include aquifers and aquifer recharge areas; or
(4) affect natural hazard lands in which such operations could substantially endanger life and property, such lands to include areas subject to frequent flooding and areas of unstable geology.
(c) The department shall forthwith develop a process to meet the requirements of this act. The process shall include:
(1) review by the department of surface coal refuse disposal lands;
(2) a data base and an inventory system which will permit proper evaluation of the capacity of different land areas of the State to support and permit reclamation of coal refuse disposal operations;
(3) a method or methods for implementing land use planning decisions concerning coal refuse disposal operations; and
(4) proper notice, opportunities for public participation, including a public hearing prior to making any designation or redesignation, pursuant to this section.
(d) Determinations of the unsuitability of land for coal refuse disposal as provided for in this section, shall be integrated as closely as possible with present and future land use planning and regulation processes at the Federal, State and local levels.
(e) The requirements of this section shall not apply to lands on which coal refuse disposal operations are being conducted on the date of enactment of this act or under a permit issued pursuant to this act, or where substantial legal and financial commitments as they are defined under § 522 of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, 30 U.S.C. § 1201 et seq. if1 such operation were in existence prior to January 4, 1977.
(f) Any person having an interest which is or may be adversely affected shall have the right to petition the department to have an area designated as unsuitable for coal refuse disposal operations, or to have such a designation terminated. Pursuant to the procedure set forth in this subsection, the department may initiate proceedings seeking to have an area designated as unsuitable for coal refuse disposal operations, or to have such a designation terminated. Such a petition shall contain allegations of facts with supporting evidence which would tend to establish the allegations. Within ten months after receipt of the petition the department shall hold a public hearing in the locality of the affected area, after appropriate notice and publication of the date, time and location of such hearing. After a person having an interest which is or may be adversely affected has filed a petition and before the hearing, as required by this subsection, any person may intervene by filing allegations of facts with supporting evidence which would tend to establish the allegations. Within sixty days after such hearing, the department shall issue and furnish to the petitioner and any other party to the hearing, a written decision regarding the petition, and the reasons therefore. In the event that all the petitioners stipulate agreement prior to the requested hearing and withdraw their request, such hearing need not be held.
(g) Prior to designating any land areas as unsuitable for coal refuse disposal operations, the department shall prepare a detailed statement on (i) the potential coal resources of the area, (ii) the demand for coal resources, and (iii) the impact of such designation on the environment, the economy, and the supply of coal.
(h) Subject to valid existing rights as they are defined under § 522 of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, 30 U.S.C. § 1201 et seq., no coal refuse disposal operations except those which exist on August 3, 1977, shall be permitted:
(1) on any lands within the boundaries of units of the National Park System, the National Wildlife Refuge Systems, the National System of Trails, the National Wilderness Preservation System, the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, including study rivers designated under section 5(a) of the Wild on Scenic Rivers Act 16 U.S.C. § 1274 et seq. and National Recreation Areas designated by act of Congress;
(2) on any Federal lands within the boundaries of any National forest: Provided, however, That coal refuse disposal operations may be permitted on such lands if the Department of the Interior and the department find that there are no significant recreational, timber, economic, or other values which may be incompatible with such coal refuse disposal operations;
(3) which will adversely affect any publicly owned park or places included in the National Register of Historic Sites unless approved jointly by the department and the Federal, State or local agency with jurisdiction over the park or the historic site;
(4) within one hundred feet of the outside right-of-way line of any public road, except where mine access roads or haulage roads join such right-of-way line and except that the regulatory authority may permit such roads to be relocated or the area affected to lie within one hundred feet of such road, if after public notice and opportunity for public hearing in the locality a written finding is made that the interests of the public and the landowners affected thereby will be protected; or
(5) within three hundred feet of any occupied dwelling, unless waived by the owner thereof, nor within three hundred feet of any public park, public building, school, church, community or institutional building, nor within one hundred feet of a cemetery, nor within one hundred feet of the bank of any stream. Notwithstanding this one hundred foot stream buffer zone, if consistent with section 4.1 of this act,2 the department may grant a variance to dispose of coal refuse and to relocate or divert streams in the stream buffer zone if the operator demonstrates to the satisfaction of the department that there will be no significant adverse hydrologic or water quality impacts as a result of the variance. The variance shall be issued as a written order specifying the methods and techniques that must be employed to prevent or mitigate adverse impacts. Prior to granting any such variance, the operator shall be required to give public notice of his application for the variance in two newspapers of general circulation in the area once a week for two successive weeks. Should any person file any exception to the proposed variance within twenty days of the last publication of the notice, the department shall conduct a public hearing with respect to the application within thirty days of receipt of the exception. The department shall also consider any information or comments submitted by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission prior to taking action on any variance request.
(i) All new coal refuse disposal areas shall include a system to prevent adverse impacts to surface and ground water and to prevent precipitation from contacting the coal refuse and shall allow for revegetation and the prevention of erosion. The system for preventing precipitation from contacting the coal refuse shall be installed:
(1) as phases of the coal refuse disposal area reach capacity;
(2) as specified in the permit;
(3) when the operator temporarily ceases operation of the coal refuse disposal area for a period in excess of ninety days unless the department approves an operator's request for a longer period; or
(4) when the operator permanently ceases operation of the coal refuse disposal area.
(j) For the purposes of this act and the policies, rules and regulations and standards adopted pursuant to this act, the requirements pertaining to temporary cessation of coal refuse disposal areas shall be in conformance with regulations and standards adopted by the United States Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement pursuant to Federal law, namely the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977. However, the department may promulgate regulations to provide for the connection of coal refuse or related material to the coal refuse disposal area.

Credits

1968, Sept. 24, P.L. 1040, No. 318, § 6.1, added 1980, Oct. 10, P.L. 807, No. 154, § 4, imd. effective. Amended 1994, Dec. 7, P.L. 792, No. 114, § 5, effective in 60 days; 2019, Oct. 4, P.L. 452, No. 74, § 1, effective in 60 days [Dec. 3, 2019].

Footnotes

“in” in original.
52 P.S. § 30.54a.
52 P.S. § 30.56a, PA ST 52 P.S. § 30.56a
Current through Act 4 of the 2024 Regular Session. Some statute sections may be more current, see credits for details.
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