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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 4. Conservation And Natural Resources
Agency 25. Department of Energy
Chapter 130. Coal Surface Mining Reclamation Regulations

4VAC25-130-773.15. Review of permit applications.

(a) General.

(1) The division shall review the application for a permit, revision, or renewal; written comments and objections submitted; information from the AVS; and records of any informal conference or hearing held on the application and issue a written decision, within a reasonable time, either granting, requiring modification of, or denying the application. If an informal conference is held under 4VAC25-130-773.13(c), the decision shall be made within 60 days of the close of the conference.

(2) The applicant for a permit or revision of a permit shall have the burden of establishing that the application is in compliance with all the requirements of the regulatory program.

(3) The division shall review the information submitted under 4VAC25-130-778.13 and 4VAC25-130-778.14 regarding the applicant's or operator's permit histories, business structure, and ownership and control relationships.

(4) If the applicant or operator does not have any previous mining experience, the division may conduct additional reviews to determine if someone else with surface coal mining experience controls or will control the mining operation.

(b) Review of violations.

(1) Based on available information concerning federal and state failure-to-abate cessation orders, unabated federal and state imminent harm cessation orders, delinquent civil penalties issued pursuant to § 518 of the federal Act and § 45.2-1021 of the Code of Virginia, bond forfeitures where violations upon which the forfeitures were based have not been corrected, delinquent abandoned mine reclamation fees, and unabated violations of federal and state laws, rules, and regulations pertaining to air or water environmental protection incurred in connection with any surface coal mining operation, the division shall not issue the permit if any surface coal mining and reclamation operation directly owned or controlled by either the applicant or operator is currently in violation of the federal Act, this chapter, or any other law, rule or regulation referred to in this subdivision; or if a surface coal mining and reclamation operation indirectly owned or controlled by the applicant or operator has an unabated or uncorrected violation and the applicant's or operator's control was established or the violation was cited after November 2, 1988. In the absence of a failure-to-abate cessation order, the division may presume that a notice of violation issued pursuant to 4VAC25-130-843.12 or under a federal or state program has been or is being corrected to the satisfaction of the agency with jurisdiction over the violation, except where evidence to the contrary is set forth in the permit application or the AVS, or where the notice of violation is issued for nonpayment of abandoned mine reclamation fees or civil penalties. If a current violation exists, the division shall require the applicant or operator, before the issuance of the permit, to either

(i) Submit to the division proof that the current violation has been or is in the process of being corrected to the satisfaction of the agency that has jurisdiction over the violation; or

(ii) Establish for the division that the applicant, or operator, has filed and is presently pursuing, in good faith, a direct administrative or judicial appeal to contest the validity of the current violation. If the initial judicial review authority under 4VAC25-130-775.13 affirms the violation, then the applicant shall within 30 days of the judicial action submit the proof required under subdivision (b)(1)(i) of this section.

(2) Any permit that is issued on the basis of proof submitted under subdivision (b)(1)(i) of this section that a violation is in the process of being corrected, or pending the outcome of an appeal described in subdivision (b)(1)(ii) of this section, shall be conditionally issued.

(3) If the division makes a finding that the applicant or the operator specified in the application, controls or has controlled surface coal mining and reclamation operations with a demonstrated pattern of willful violations of the Act of such nature and duration, and with resulting irreparable damage to the environment as to indicate an intent not to comply with the Act, no permit shall be issued. Before such a finding becomes final, the applicant or operator shall be afforded an opportunity for an adjudicatory hearing on the determination as provided for in 4VAC25-130-775.11.

(4) (i) Subsequent to October 24, 1992, the prohibitions of subsection (b) of this section regarding the issuance of a new permit shall not apply to any violation that:

(A) Occurs after that date;

(B) Is unabated; and

(C) Results from an unanticipated event or condition that arises from a surface coal mining and reclamation operation on lands that are eligible for remining under a permit held by the person making application for the new permit.

(ii) For permits issued under 4VAC25-130-785.25 an event or condition shall be presumed to be unanticipated for the purposes of this subdivision if it:

(A) Arose after permit issuance;

(B) Was related to prior mining; and

(C) Was not identified in the permit.

(c) Written findings for permit application approval. No permit application or application for a significant revision of a permit shall be approved unless the application affirmatively demonstrates and the division finds, in writing, on the basis of information set forth in the application or from information otherwise available that is documented in the approval, the following:

(1) The application is complete and accurate and the applicant has complied with all requirements of the Act and this chapter.

(2) The applicant has demonstrated that reclamation as required by the Act and this chapter can be accomplished under the reclamation plan contained in the permit application.

(3) The proposed permit area is:

(i) Not within an area under study or administrative proceedings under a petition, filed pursuant to Part 764 of this chapter and 30 CFR Part 769, to have an area designated as unsuitable for surface coal mining operations, unless the applicant demonstrates that before January 4, 1977, he has made substantial legal and financial commitments in relation to the operation covered by the permit application; or

(ii) Not within an area designated as unsuitable for mining pursuant to Parts 762 and 764 of this chapter, or subject to the prohibitions or limitations of 4VAC25-130-761.11 and 4VAC25-130-761.12.

(4) For mining operations where the private mineral property to be mined has been severed from the private surface property, the applicant has submitted to the division the documentation required under 4VAC25-130-778.15(b).

(5) The division has made an assessment of the probable cumulative impacts of all anticipated coal mining on the hydrologic balance in the cumulative impact area and has determined that the proposed operation has been designed to prevent material damage to the hydrologic balance outside the permit area.

(6) The applicant has demonstrated that any existing structure will comply with 4VAC25-130-701.11(d) and 4VAC25-130-773.16, and the applicable performance standards of the initial regulatory program or Subchapter VK.

(7) The applicant has paid all reclamation fees, civil penalty assessments, Pool Bond Fund fees, and anniversary fees, from previous and existing operations as required by this chapter.

(8) The applicant has satisfied the applicable requirements of Part 785 of this chapter.

(9) The applicant has, if applicable, satisfied the requirements for approval of a long-term, intensive agricultural postmining land use, in accordance with the requirements of 4VAC25-130-816.111(d) or 4VAC25-130-817.111(d).

(10) The operation would not affect the continued existence of endangered or threatened species or result in destruction or adverse modification of their critical habitats, as determined under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 USC § 1531 et seq.).

(11) The division has taken into account the effect of the proposed permitting action on properties listed on and eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. This finding may be supported in part by inclusion of appropriate permit conditions or changes in the operation plan protecting historic resources, or a documented decision that the division has determined that no additional protection measures are necessary.

(12) For a proposed remining operation where the applicant intends to reclaim in accordance with the requirements of 4VAC25-130-816.106 or 4VAC25-130-817.106, the site of the operation is a previously mined area as defined in 4VAC25-130-700.5.

(13) The applicant or the permittee specified in the application, has not owned or controlled a surface mining and reclamation operation for which the permit has been revoked and/or the bond forfeited pursuant to the Code of Virginia or any federal law, rule or regulation, or any law, rule or regulation enacted pursuant to federal or state law pertaining to air or water environmental protection and surface coal mining activities in any other state unless reinstated. Applicable Virginia reinstatement requirements may be found in 4VAC25-130-800.52.

(14) For permits to be issued under 4VAC25-130-785.25 the permit application must contain:

(i) Lands eligible for remining;

(ii) An identification of the potential environmental and safety problems related to prior mining activity which could reasonably be anticipated to occur at the site; and

(iii) Mitigation plans to sufficiently address these potential environmental and safety problems so that reclamation as required by the applicable requirements of this chapter can be accomplished.

(d) Performance bond submittal. If the division decides to approve the application, it shall require that the applicant file the performance bond or provide other equivalent guarantee before the permit is issued, in accordance with the provisions of Subchapter VJ.

(e) Final compliance review. After an application is approved, but before the permit is issued, the division shall reconsider its decision to approve the application, based on the compliance review required by subdivision (b)(1) of this section in light of any new information submitted under 4VAC25-130-778.13 (j) or 4VAC25-130-778.14 (d).

Statutory Authority

§ 45.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR480-03-19 § 773.19, eff. December 15, 1981; amended, eff. June 28, 1982; October 28, 1982; December 14, 1982; October 11, 1983; December 27, 1983; May 8, 1984; June 22, 1984; August 2, 1984; October 16, 1985; January 7, 1987; July 22, 1987; November 25, 1987; October 12, 1988; December 26, 1990; July 1, 1991; July 17, 1991; November 20, 1991; July 7, 1992; May 5, 1993; October 19, 1994; Volume 38, Issue 13, eff. March 31, 2022.

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