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RULE §12.111General Requirements: Exploration That Will Remove More Than 250 Tons of Coal or That Will Occur on Land Designated as Unsuitable for Surface Coal Mining Operations

Any person who intends to conduct coal exploration outside a permit area during which more than 250 tons of coal will be removed or which will take place on lands designated as unsuitable for surface mining under Subchapter F of this chapter (relating to Lands Unsuitable for Mining) shall, prior to conducting the exploration, submit an application and obtain the written approval of the Commission, in accordance with the following:

  (1) Contents of application for approval. Each application for approval shall contain, at a minimum, the following information:

    (A) the name, address, and telephone number of the applicant;

    (B) the name, address, and telephone number of the representative of the applicant who will be present at and be responsible for conducting the exploration;

    (C) an exploration and reclamation operations plan, including:

      (i) a narrative description of the proposed exploration area, cross-referenced to the map required under subparagraph (E) of this paragraph, including surface topography; geological, surface water, and other physical features; vegetative cover, the distribution and important habitats of fish, wildlife, and plants, including, but not limited to, any endangered or threatened species listed pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.); cultural or historic resources listed on or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places; known archeological resources located within the proposed exploration area; and any other information which the Commission may require regarding known or unknown historic or archeological resources;

      (ii) a narrative description of the methods to be used to conduct coal exploration and reclamation, including, but not limited to, the types and uses of equipment, drilling, blasting, road or other access route construction, and excavated earth and other debris disposal activities;

      (iii) an estimated timetable for conducting and completing each phase of the exploration and reclamation;

      (iv) the estimated amounts of coal to be removed and a description of the methods to be used to determine those amounts; and

      (v) a description of the measures to be used to comply with the applicable requirements of §§12.325-12.328 of this title (relating to Permanent Program Performance Standards--Coal Exploration);

    (D) the name and address of the owner of record of the surface land and of the subsurface mineral estate of the area to be explored;

    (E) a map at a scale of 1:24,000 or larger, showing the areas of land to be substantially disturbed by the proposed exploration and reclamation. The map shall specifically show existing roads, occupied dwellings, and pipelines; proposed location of trenches, roads, and other access routes and structures to be constructed; the location of land excavations to be conducted, water or coal exploratory holes and wells to be drilled or altered, earth or debris disposal areas; existing bodies of surface water; historic, topographic, cultural and drainage features; the habitats of any endangered or threatened species listed pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.);

    (F) if the surface is owned by a person other than the applicant, a description of the basis upon which the applicant claims the right to enter that land for the purpose of conducting exploration and reclamation;

    (G) a statement of why extraction of more than 250 tons of coal is necessary for exploration; and

    (H) for any lands listed in §12.71(a) of this title (relating to Areas Where Surface Coal Mining Operations are Prohibited or Limited), a demonstration that, to the extent technologically and economically feasible, the proposed exploration activities have been designed to minimize interference with the values for which those lands were designated as unsuitable for Surface coal mining operations. The application must include documentation of consultation with the owner of the feature causing the land to come under the protection of §12.71(a) of this title, and, when applicable, with the agency with primary jurisdiction over the feature with respect to the values that caused the land to come under the protection of §12.71(a) of this title.

  (2) Public notice and opportunity to comment. Public notice of the application and opportunity to comment shall be provided as follows:

    (A) at the same time a complete application is filed with the Commission, public notice of the filing of the application with the Commission shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or counties of the proposed exploration area;

    (B) the public notice shall state the name and business address of the person seeking approval, the date of filing of the application, the address of the Commission at which written comments on the application may be submitted, the closing date of the comment period, and a description of the general area of exploration; and

    (C) any person with an interest which is or may be adversely affected shall have the right to file written comments on the application within 30 days of the posting of the above notice.

Source Note: The provisions of this §12.111 adopted to be effective April 7, 1997, 22 TexReg 3093; amended to be effective June 9, 2003, 28 TexReg 4412

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