§ 131.001. SHORT TITLE.
     This chapter may be cited as the Texas Uranium Surface Mining and Reclamation Act.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2607, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977. Amended by Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 305, ch. 141, § 39, eff. May 9, 1979; Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 849, ch. 379, § 1, eff. June 6, 1979.

     The legislature finds and declares that:
          (1) the extraction of minerals by surface mining operations is a basic and essential activity making an important contribution to the economic well-being of the state and nation;
          (2) proper reclamation of surface-mined land is necessary to prevent undesirable land and water conditions that would be detrimental to the general welfare, health, safety, and property rights of the citizens of this state;
          (3) surface mining takes place in diverse areas where the geologic, topographic, climatic, biological, and social conditions are significantly different and that reclamation operations and the specifications for reclamation operations must vary accordingly;
          (4) it is not always possible to extract minerals required by our society without disturbing the surface of the earth and producing waste materials, and the very character of certain types of surface mining operations occasionally precludes complete restoration of the affected land to its original condition;
          (5) unregulated surface mining may destroy or diminish the utility of land for commercial, industrial, residential, recreational, agricultural, and forestry purposes by causing erosion and landslides, by contributing to floods, by polluting the water, by destroying fish and wildlife habitats, by impairing natural beauty, by damaging the property of citizens, by creating hazards dangerous to life and property, by degrading the quality of life in local communities, and by counteracting governmental programs and efforts to conserve soil, water, and other natural resources, which results are declared to be inimical to the public interest and destructive to the public health, safety, welfare, and economy of the State of Texas;
          (6) due to its unique character or location, some land within the state may be unsuitable for all or certain types of surface mining operations;
          (7) reclamation of surface-mined land as provided by this chapter will allow the mining of valuable minerals in a manner designed for the protection and subsequent beneficial use of land; and
          (8) the requirements of this chapter for reclamation and maintenance of affected land are necessary for the public health and safety and thus constitute a valid application of the police power of this state.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2607, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977. Amended by Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 849, ch. 379, § 1, eff. June 6, 1979.

§ 131.003. PURPOSES.
     It is declared to be the purpose of this chapter:
          (1) to prevent the adverse effects to society and the environment resulting from unregulated surface mining operations as defined in this chapter;
          (2) to assure that the rights of surface landowners and other persons with a legal interest in the land or appurtenances to the land are protected from unregulated surface mining operations;
          (3) to assure that surface mining operations are not conducted where reclamation as required by this chapter is not possible;
          (4) to assure that surface mining operations are conducted in a manner that will prevent unreasonable degradation of land and water resources; and
          (5) to assure that reclamation of all surface-mined land is accomplished as contemporaneously as practicable with the surface mining, recognizing that the extraction of minerals by responsible mining operations is an essential and beneficial economic activity.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2608, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 131.004. DEFINITIONS.
     In this chapter:
          (1) "Minerals" means uranium and uranium ore.
          (2) "Surface mining" means the mining of minerals by removing the overburden lying above the natural deposit of minerals and mining directly from the natural deposits that are exposed and those aspects of underground mining having significant effects on the surface; provided, this definition shall not be construed to include in situ mining activities associated with the removal of uranium or uranium ore.
          (3) "Exploration activity" means the disturbance of the surface or subsurface for the purpose of or related to determining the location, quantity, or quality of a mineral deposit.
          (4) "Affected land" or "land affected" means:
               (A) the area from which any materials are to be or have been displaced in a surface mining operation;
               (B) the area on which any materials that are displaced are to be or have been deposited;
               (C) the haul roads and impoundment basins within the surface mining area; and
               (D) other land whose natural state has been or will be disturbed as a result of the surface mining operations.
          (5) "Surface mining operation" means those activities conducted at or near the mining site and concomitant with the surface mining, including extraction, storage, processing, and shipping of minerals and reclamation of the land affected.
          (6) "Operator" means the individual or entity, including any public or governmental agency, that is to engage or that is engaged in a surface mining operation, including any individual or entity whose permit has expired or been suspended or revoked.
          (7) "Overburden" means all materials displaced in a mining operation which are not, or will not be, removed from the affected area.
          (8) "Reclamation" means the process of restoring an area affected by a surface mining operation to its original or other substantially beneficial condition, considering past and possible future uses of the area and the surrounding topography.
          (9) "Topsoil" means the unconsolidated mineral matter naturally present on the surface of the earth which has been subjected to and influenced by genetic and environmental factors of parent material, climate, macroorganisms and microorganisms, and topography, all acting over a period of time, and which is necessary for the growth and regeneration of vegetation on the surface of the earth.
          (10) "Surface mining permit" or "permit" means the written certification by the commission that the named operator may conduct the surface mining operations described in the certification during the term of the surface mining permit and in the manner established in the certification. These terms do not include a discharge permit issued by the commission pursuant to Subchapter H of this chapter.
          (11) "Person affected" means any person who is a resident of a county or any county adjacent or contiguous to the county in which a mining operation is or is proposed to be located, including any person who is doing business or owns land in the county or adjacent or contiguous county and any local government and who demonstrates that he has suffered or will suffer actual injury or economic damage.
          (12) "Commission" means the Railroad Commission of Texas.
          (13) "Fund" means the Land Reclamation Fund.
          (14) "Toxic material" means any substance present in sufficient concentration or amount to cause injury or illness to plant, animal, or human life.
          (15) "Approximate original contour" means that surface configuration achieved by backfilling and grading of the surface-mined area so that it resembles the surface configuration of the land prior to mining and blends into and complements the drainage pattern of the surrounding terrain, with all highwalls, spoil piles, and depressions eliminated, although the new contour may subsequently be at a moderately lower or higher elevation than existed prior to the surface mining operation.
          (16) "Person" means an individual, partnership, society, joint-stock company, firm, company, corporation, business organization, government or governmental subdivision or agency, business trust, estate, trust, organization or association of citizens, or any other legal entity.
          (17) "Party to the administrative proceedings" means any person who has participated in a public hearing or filed a valid petition or timely objection pursuant to any provision of this chapter.
          (18) "Permit area" means all the area designated as such in the permit application and shall include all land affected by the surface mining operations during the term of the permit and may include any contiguous area that the operator proposes to surface mine after that time.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2608, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977. Amended by Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 308, ch. 141, § 42, eff. May 9, 1979; Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 853, ch. 379, § 3, eff. June 6, 1979; Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 1989, ch. 784, § 1, eff. Aug. 27, 1979; Acts 1981, 67th Leg., p. 413, ch. 171, § 1, eff. May 20, 1981; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 921, § 5, 6, eff. June 15, 1985.

§ 131.005. RECLAMATION.
     (a) The basic objective of reclamation is to reestablish on a continuing basis, where required, vegetation and other natural conditions consistent with the anticipated subsequent use of the affected land.
     (b) The process of reclamation may require contouring, terracing, grading, backfilling, resoiling, revegetation, compaction and stabilization and settling ponds, water impoundments, diversion ditches, and other water treatment facilities in order to minimize water diminution to existing water sources, pollution, soil and wind erosion, or flooding resulting from mining or any other activity that may be considered necessary to accomplish the reclamation of the land affected to a substantially beneficial condition.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2610, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

     The provisions of this chapter do not apply to the following:
          (1) surface mining operations conducted on public land regulated by the General Land Office if the land is reclaimed in a manner consistent with this chapter; and
          (2) land on which the overburden has been removed and minerals have been produced before June 21, 1975.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2610, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.