|(a) Within 10 months after receipt of a complete petition, the Commission shall hold a public hearing in the locality of the area covered by the petition. If all petitioners and intervenors agree, the hearing need not be held. The Commission may subpoena witnesses as necessary. The hearing may be conducted with cross-examination of expert witnesses only. A record of the hearing shall be made and preserved according to state law. No person shall bear the burden of proof or persuasion. All relevant parts of the data base and inventory system and all public comments received during the public comment period shall be included in the record and considered by the Commission in its decision on the petition. (b) The following notice requirements shall apply: (1) the Commission shall give notice of the date, time, and location of the hearing to: (A) local, state and federal agencies which may have an interest in the
decision on the petition; (B) the petitioner and intervenors; and (C) any person known by the Commission to have a property interest in the petitioned area. Proper notice to persons with an ownership interest of record shall be accomplished by placing a postage paid notice, addressed as shown in the public record, in the U.S. mail; and (2) notice of the hearing shall be sent by certified mail to petitioners and intervenors, and by regular mail to government agencies and property owners involved in the proceeding, and postmarked not less than 30 days before the scheduled date of the hearing. (c) The Commission shall notify the general public of the date, time, and location of the hearing by placing a newspaper advertisement once a week for 2 consecutive weeks in the locale of the area covered by the petition and once during the week prior to the scheduled date of the public hearing. The consecutive weekly
advertisement must begin between 4 and 5 weeks before the scheduled date of the public hearing. (d) The Commission may consolidate in a single hearing the hearings required for each of several petitions which relate to areas in the same locale. (e) Prior to designating any land areas as unsuitable for surface mining operations, the Commission shall prepare a detailed statement using existing and available information on the potential coal resources of the area, the demand for coal resources, and the impact of such designation on the environment, the economy, and the supply of coal. (f) In the event that all petitioners and intervenors stipulate agreement prior to the hearing, the petition may be withdrawn from consideration.