TX NATURAL RESOURCES CODE

TITLE 3. OIL AND GAS

SUBTITLE A. ADMINISTRATION

CHAPTER 134. TEXAS SURFACE COAL MINING AND RECLAMATION ACT

SUBCHAPTER B. POWERS AND DUTIES OF COMMISSION



§ 134.011. GENERAL AUTHORITY OF COMMISSION.
     To accomplish the purposes of this chapter, the commission may:
          (1) adopt, amend, and enforce rules pertaining to surface coal mining and reclamation operations consistent with the general intent and purposes of this chapter;
          (2) issue permits under this chapter;
          (3) conduct hearings under this chapter and Chapter 2001, Government Code;
          (4) issue orders requiring an operator to take actions necessary to comply with this chapter or rules adopted under this chapter;
          (5) issue orders modifying previous orders;
          (6) issue a final order revoking the permit of an operator who has not complied with a commission order to take action required by this chapter or rules adopted under this chapter;
          (7) order the immediate cessation of all or part of an ongoing surface coal mining operation if the commission finds that the operation or part of the operation creates an imminent danger to the health or safety of the public or is causing or can reasonably be expected to cause significant imminent harm to land, air, or water resources, and take other action or make changes in a permit that are reasonably necessary to avoid or alleviate those conditions;
          (8) hire employees, adopt standards for employment, and hire or authorize the hiring of outside contractors to assist in carrying out this chapter;
          (9) enter and inspect, in person or by its agents, a surface mining operation that is subject to this chapter to assure compliance with this chapter;
          (10) conduct, encourage, request, and participate in studies, surveys, investigations, research, experiments, training, and demonstrations by contract, grant, or otherwise;
          (11) prepare and require permit holders to prepare reports;
          (12) accept, receive, and administer grants, gifts, loans, or other money made available from any source for the purposes of this chapter;
          (13) take the steps necessary for this state to participate to the fullest extent practicable in the abandoned land program provided by Title IV of the federal Act;
          (14) take the actions necessary to establish exclusive jurisdiction over surface coal mining and reclamation in Texas under the provisions of the federal Act, including, if the federal agency disapproves Texas' program as submitted, making recommendations for remedial legislation to clarify, alter, or amend the program to meet the terms of the federal Act;
          (15) contract with state boards and agencies that have pertinent expertise to obtain the professional and technical services necessary to carry out this chapter;
          (16) establish a process, to avoid duplication, for coordinating the review and issuance of permits for surface coal mining and reclamation operations with any other federal or state permit process applicable to the proposed operations;
          (17) enter into cooperative agreements with the secretary of the interior for the regulation of surface coal mining operations on federal land in accordance with the federal Act; and
          (18) perform any other duty or act required by or provided for in this chapter.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 134.012. JURISDICTION OF COMMISSION OVER SURFACE COAL, IRON ORE, AND IRON ORE GRAVEL MINING AND RECLAMATION
      OPERATIONS. (a) The commission has exclusive jurisdiction over:
          (1) surface coal mining and reclamation operations in this state; and
          (2) iron ore and iron ore gravel mining and reclamation operations in this state.
     (b) This chapter governs iron ore and iron ore gravel mining and reclamation operations to the extent it can be made applicable.
     (c) The jurisdiction conferred by Subsection (a)(2) does not extend to:
          (1) a mining or reclamation activity in progress on or before September 1, 1985; or
          (2) a mining operation or reclamation activity that is conducted solely on real property owned in fee simple by the person authorizing the operation or reclamation activity and that is confined to a single, contiguous tract of land, if:
               (A) the activity is conducted in an area not larger than 20 acres;
               (B) the depth of the mining operation is restricted to 30 inches or less; and
               (C) the fee simple owner receives surface damages.
     (d) This chapter does not authorize the commission to adjudicate property title or property rights disputes.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 134.013. RULEMAKING AND PERMITTING.
     (a) The commission shall adopt rules pertaining to surface coal mining and reclamation operations required by this chapter.
     (b) The process of making and amending rules and issuing permits is subject to Chapter 2001, Government Code.
     (c) A rule or an amended rule adopted or a permit issued by the commission may have different terms for particular conditions, types of coal being extracted, particular areas of the state, or other relevant or necessary conditions if the action taken is consistent with the general intent and purposes of this chapter.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 134.014. COAL EXPLORATION OPERATIONS.
     (a) A person who conducts coal exploration operations that substantially disturb the natural land surface shall comply with commission rules adopted to govern those operations. The rules shall require that before conducting the exploration, a person file with the commission notice of intent to explore and include with the notice:
          (1) a description of the exploration area and the period of proposed exploration; and
          (2) provisions for reclaiming, in accordance with the performance standards in Sections 134.091 through 134.109, the land disturbed in exploration, including provisions for reclamation of excavations, roads, and drill holes and for removal of necessary facilities and equipment.
     (b) A person who conducts coal exploration operations that substantially disturb the natural land surface in violation of this section or a rule adopted under this section is subject to Sections 134.174 through 134.181.
     (c) An operator may not remove more than 250 tons of coal under an exploration permit without the specific written approval of the commission.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 165, § 25.01(d), eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 134.015. SURFACE EFFECTS OF UNDERGROUND MINING.
     (a) The commission shall adopt rules applicable to the surface effects of underground mining that are consistent with the federal Act and regulations adopted under that Act by the secretary of the interior.
     (b) This chapter applies to the regulation of the surface effects of underground mining operations as established by Section 516 of the federal Act.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 134.016. DEVELOPMENT OF PROCESS FOR DESIGNATING AREAS UNSUITABLE FOR SURFACE COAL MINING.
     The commission shall develop a
      process for designating areas unsuitable for surface coal mining. The process shall include:
          (1) reviewing surface coal mining land;
          (2) developing a data base and an inventory system that will permit proper evaluation of the capacity of different land areas of the state to support and permit reclamation of surface coal mining operations;
          (3) developing, by rule, a method or methods for implementing land use planning decisions about surface coal mining operations; and
          (4) developing, by rule, proper notice, provisions, and opportunities for public participation, including a public hearing, before the commission makes a designation or redesignation under Section 134.020.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 134.017. PETITION FOR DESIGNATION.
     (a) An affected person is entitled:
          (1) before an application is filed under Section 134.052, to petition the commission to designate an area unsuitable for surface coal mining operations; or
          (2) to petition the commission to terminate a designation.
     (b) The petition shall contain:
          (1) allegations of facts; and
          (2) supporting evidence that would tend to establish the allegations.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 134.018. HEARING ON DESIGNATION.
     (a) Not later than 10 months after the date the commission receives the petition, the commission shall hold a public hearing under Chapter 2001, Government Code, in the locality of the affected area.
     (b) After a person has filed a petition under Section 134.017 and before the hearing required by Subsection (a), any person may intervene by filing allegations of facts with supporting evidence that would tend to establish the allegations.
     (c) A hearing is not required if all petitioners stipulate agreement before the requested hearing and withdraw their requests.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 134.019. COMMISSION STATEMENT.
     Before designating a land area unsuitable for surface coal mining operations, the commission shall prepare a detailed statement on:
          (1) the potential coal resources of the area;
          (2) the demand for coal resources; and
          (3) the impact of the designation on the environment, the economy, and the supply of coal.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 134.020. DESIGNATION OF AREA AS UNSUITABLE FOR SURFACE COAL MINING.
     (a) On petition under Section 134.017, the commission
      shall designate an area unsuitable for all or certain types of surface coal mining operations if the commission determines that reclamation under this chapter is not technologically and economically feasible.
     (b) On petition under Section 134.017, the commission may designate a surface area unsuitable for certain types of surface coal mining operations if those operations will:
          (1) be incompatible with existing state or local land use plans or programs;
          (2) affect fragile or historic land in which the operations could result in significant damage to important historic, cultural, scientific, and aesthetic values and natural systems;
          (3) affect renewable resource lands, including aquifers and aquifer recharge areas, in which the operations could result in a substantial loss or reduction of long-range productivity of water supply or of food or fiber products; or
          (4) affect natural hazard land, including areas subject to frequent flooding and areas of unstable geology, in which the operations could substantially endanger life and property.
     (c) Sections 134.016 through 134.019 and this section do not apply to land:
          (1) for which substantial legal and financial commitments in a surface coal mining operation or proposed operation were in existence before January 4, 1977;
          (2) on which surface coal mining operations were being conducted on August 3, 1977; or
          (3) on which surface coal mining operations are being conducted under a permit issued under this chapter.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 134.021. INTEGRATION WITH LAND USE PLANNING AND REGULATION PROCESSES.
     Determinations of the unsuitability of land
      for surface coal mining under Sections 134.016 through 134.020 shall be integrated as closely as possible with present and future land use planning and regulation processes at the federal, state, and local levels.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 134.022. PROHIBITION ON SURFACE COAL MINING IN CERTAIN AREAS.
     (a) Surface coal mining operations may not be permitted:
          (1) that will adversely affect a publicly owned park or place included in the National Register of Historic Sites unless approved jointly by the commission and the federal, state, or local agency with jurisdiction over the park or historic site;
          (2) within 100 feet of the outside right-of-way line of a public road, except:
               (A) where a mine access road or haulage road joins the right-of-way line; or
               (B) as provided by Subsection (b);
          (3) within 300 feet of an occupied dwelling, unless the owner of the dwelling waives the prohibition;
          (4) within 300 feet of a public, school, church, community, or institutional building;
          (5) within 300 feet of a public park; or
          (6) within 100 feet of a cemetery.
     (b) The commission may permit a public road to be relocated or the area affected by surface coal mining operations to lie within 100 feet of the outside right-of-way line of the public 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 by the relocation will be protected.
     (c) This section is subject to rights existing on August 3, 1977, and does not affect surface coal mining operations that existed on August 3, 1977.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 165, § 25.01(e), eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

§ 134.023. COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS WITH FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.
     The commission may enter into cooperative agreements
      with the federal government under the federal Act.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 134.024. EXPERIMENTAL PRACTICES.
     (a) The commission, with approval by the secretary of agriculture, may authorize experimental departures, in individual cases, from the environmental protection performance standards of this chapter to:
          (1) encourage advances in mining and reclamation practices; and
          (2) allow postmining land use for industrial, commercial, residential, or public use, including recreational facilities.
     (b) The commission may authorize departures if:
          (1) the experimental practices are potentially at least as environmentally protective, during and after mining operations, as those required by this chapter;
          (2) the mining operations approved for particular land-use or other purposes are not larger or more numerous than necessary to determine the effectiveness and economic feasibility of the experimental practices; and
          (3) the experimental practices do not reduce the protection afforded public health and safety below that provided by adopted standards.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 134.025. CERTIFICATION OF BLASTERS.
     The commission shall adopt rules requiring the training, examination, and certification of persons engaging in or directly responsible for blasting or the use of explosives in surface coal mining operations.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 134.026. MONITORING, REPORTING, AND INSPECTIONS.
     (a) The commission shall:
          (1) require monitoring and reporting;
          (2) inspect surface coal mining and reclamation operations;
          (3) require the maintenance of signs and markers; and
          (4) take other actions necessary to:
               (A) administer, enforce, or evaluate the administration of this chapter; or
               (B) meet the state program requirements of the federal Act.
     (b) For purposes of this section, the commission or its authorized representative:
          (1) without advance notice and on presentation of appropriate credentials, has the right to enter:
               (A) a surface coal mining and reclamation operation; or
               (B) premises on which records required to be maintained are located; and
          (2) at reasonable times and without delay, may have access to and copy records required under this chapter or rules adopted under this chapter or inspect any monitoring equipment or method of operation required under this chapter or rules adopted under this chapter.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 134.027. MONITORING OF OPERATIONS THAT AFFECT AQUIFERS.
     For surface coal mining and reclamation operations that
      remove or disturb strata that serve as aquifers that significantly ensure the hydrologic balance of water use on or off the mining site, the commission shall specify:
          (1) monitoring sites to record:
               (A) the quantity and quality of surface drainage above and below the mine site and in the potential zone of influence;
               (B) the level and amount and to take samples of groundwater and aquifers potentially affected by the mining and directly below the lowermost, deepest coal seam to be mined; and
               (C) precipitation; and
          (2) records of well logs and borehole data to be maintained.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 134.028. INSPECTION PROCEDURE.
     Inspections by the commission shall:
          (1) occur irregularly, averaging not fewer than one partial inspection each month and one complete inspection each calendar quarter for the surface coal mining and reclamation operation covered by each permit;
          (2) occur without prior notice to the permit holder or the permit holder's agents or employees except for necessary on-site meetings with the permit holder; and
          (3) include filing inspection reports adequate to enforce the requirements of, and to carry out, this chapter.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 134.029. PROCEDURE ON DETECTION OF VIOLATION.
     On detection of a violation of this chapter, an inspector, in writing, shall:
          (1) promptly inform the operator; and
          (2) report the violation to the commission.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 134.030. RULES REGARDING MONITORING, REPORTING, AND INSPECTIONS.
     The commission shall adopt rules for:
          (1) informing an operator of a violation detected by an inspector; and
          (2) making public all inspection and monitoring reports and other records and reports required to be kept under this chapter and rules adopted under this chapter and not confidential under Section 134.031.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 134.031. CONFIDENTIALITY.
     (a) Information pertaining to coal seams, test borings, core samplings, or soil samples required by Section 134.052 shall be made available to an affected person. However, information that pertains only to the analysis of the chemical and physical properties of the coal, except information regarding mineral or chemical content that is potentially toxic in the environment, is confidential and is not a public record.
     (b) Information submitted to the commission concerning mineral deposits, test borings, core samplings, or trade secrets or commercial or financial information relating to the competitive rights of the applicant and specifically identified as confidential by the applicant, if not essential for public review as determined by the commission, may not be disclosed by a member, agent, or employee of the commission.
     (c) Information submitted to the commission under Section 134.041 concerning mineral deposits, test borings, core samplings, or trade secrets or commercial or financial information relating to the competitive rights of the applicant and specifically identified as confidential by the applicant, if not essential for public review as determined by the commission, may not be disclosed by a member, agent, or employee of the commission. However, information required by another section that must, by the terms of the other section, be on public file or available to an affected person and information about the chemical and physical properties of the coal that relate to mineral or elemental contents that are potentially toxic in the environment is not confidential.
     (d) Information submitted to the commission under Section 134.014 as confidential concerning trade secrets or privileged commercial or financial information that relates to the competitive rights of the person intending to explore the described area is not available for public examination.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

§ 134.032. DETERMINATION REGARDING PRIME FARMLAND.
     The commission may determine that land is not prime farmland because of its soil type or slope.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, § 12.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.