[Federal Register Volume 60, Number 28 (Friday, February 10, 1995)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 7926-7927]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 95-3314]



Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement

30 CFR Part 756

Navajo Nation Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation (AMLR) Plan

AGENCY: Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM), 

ACTION: Proposed rule; public comment period and opportunity for public 
hearing on proposed amendment.


SUMMARY: OSM is announcing receipt of a proposed amendment to the 
Navajo Nation AMLR plan (hereinafter referred to as the ``Navajo Nation 
plan'') under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 
(30 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.) (SMCRA). The proposed amendment consists of 
the addition of interim program coal site provisions to the Navajo 
Nation's AMLR Code of 1987. The amendment is intended to revise the 
Navajo Nation plan to be consistent with SMCRA, and to improve 
operational efficiency.

DATES: Written comments must be received by 4:00 p.m., m.s.t., March 
13, 1995. If requested, a public hearing on the proposed amendment will 
be held on March 7, 1995. Requests to present oral testimony at the 
hearing must be received by 4:00 p.m., m.s.t., February 27, 1995.

ADDRESSES: Written comments should be mailed or hand delivered to 
Thomas E. Ehmett at the address listed below.
    Copies of the Navajo Nation plan, the proposed amendment, and all 
written comments received in response to this document will be 
available for public review at the addresses listed below during normal 
business hours, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Each 
requester may receive one free copy of the proposed amendment by 
contacting OSM's Albuquerque Field Office.

Thomas E. Ehmett, Acting Director, Albuquerque Field Office, Office of 
Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, 505 Marquette Avenue, NW., 
Suite 1200, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102;
The Navajo Nation, P.O. Box 308, Window Rock, Arizona 86515, Telephone: 
(602) 871-4941.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas E. Ehmett, Telephone: (505) 


I. Background on Title IV of SMCRA

    Title IV of SMCRA established an AMLR for the purposes of 
reclaiming and restoring lands and waters adversely affected by past 
mining. The program is funded by a reclamation fee levied on the 
production of coal. Lands and waters eligible for reclamation under 
Title IV are those that were mined or affected by mining and abandoned 
or inadequately reclaimed prior to August 3, 1977, and for which there 
is no continuing reclamation responsibility under State, Federal, 
Tribal, or other laws.
    Title IV provides for State and Tribal submittal to OSM of an AMLR 
plan. The Secretary of the Interior adopted regulations at 30 CFR 870 
through 888 that implement Title IV of SMCRA. Under these regulations, 
the Secretary reviewed the plans submitted by States and Tribes and 
solicited and considered comments of State and Federal agencies and the 
public. Based upon the comments received, the Secretary determined 
whether a State or Tribe had the ability and necessary legislation to 
implement the provisions of Title IV. After making such a 
determination, the Secretary decided whether to approve the State or 
Tribe program. Approval granted the State or Tribe exclusive authority 
to administer its plan.
    Ordinarily, under section 405 of SMCRA, a State or Tribe must have 
an approved surface mining regulatory program prior to submittal of an 
AMLR plan to OSM. However, on July 11, 1987, the President signed a 
supplemental appropriations bill (Pub. L. 100-71) that authorized the 
Crow and Hopi Tribes and Navajo Nation to adopt AMLR programs without 
approval of Tribal surface mining regulatory programs.
    Upon approval of a State's or Tribe's plan by the Secretary, the 
State or Tribe may submit to OSM, on an annual basis, an application 
for funds to be expended by that State or Tribe on specific projects 
that are necessary to implement the approval plan. Such annual requests 
are reviewed and approved by OSM in accordance with the requirements of 
30 CFR Part 886.

II. Background on the Navajo Nation Plan

    On May 16, 1988, the Secretary of the Interior approved the Navajo 
Nation plan. General background information on the Navajo Nation plan, 
including the Secretary's findings, the disposition of comments, and 
the approval of the Navajo Nation plan can be found in the May 16, 
1988, Federal Register (53 FR 17186). Approval of the Navajo Nation 
plan is codified at 30 CFR 756.13. Subsequent actions concerning the 
Navajo Nation plan and plan amendments can be found at 30 CFR 756.14.

III. Proposed Amendment

    By letter dated January 12, 1995, the Navajo Nation submitted the 
proposed amendment to its plan pursuant to SMCRA (administrative record 
No. NA-227). The Navajo Nation submited the proposed amendment at its 
own initiative and in response to the final rule Federal Register 
notice acknowledging that the Navajo Nation would amend its AMLR Code 
of 1987 to provide for the reclamation of interim program coal sites 
(59 FR 49178, 48181, finding No. 1(f), September 27, 1994; 
administrative record No. NA-225). The Navajo Nation proposes to add 
new language to its Code at section 404(b) to provide:

    Lands and waters also eligible for reclamation on the Navajo 
Nation are those which were damaged and abandoned after August 3, 
1977 by coal mining processes if the Director finds in writing that:
    (1) They were mined for coal or affected by coal mining 
processes; and
    (2) The mining occurred and the site was left in either an 
unreclaimed or inadequately reclaimed condition between August 4, 
1977 and September 18, 1984; or
    (3) The mining occurred and the site was left in either an 
unreclaimed or inadequately reclaimed condition between August 4, 
1977 and ending on November 5, 1990, and that the surety of the 
mining operator became insolvent during such period and as of 
November 5, 1990, funds immediately available from proceedings 
relating to such insolvency or from any financial guarantee or other 
source are not sufficient to provide [[Page 7927]] adequate 
reclamation or abatement at the site; and
    (4) The site qualifies as a priority site; and two site pursuant 
to section 403(a)(1) and (2) of SMCRA. Priority will be given to 
those sites which are in the immediate vicinity of a residential 
area or which have an adverse economic impact upon a community.

IV. Public Comment Procedures

    In accordance with the provisions of 30 CFR 884.14 and 884.15(a), 
OSM is seeking comments on whether the proposed amendment satisfies the 
applicable plan approval criteria of 30 CFR 884.14. If the amendment is 
deemed adequate, it will become part of the Navajo Nation plan.

1. Written Comments

    Written comments should be specific, pertain only to the issues 
proposed in this rulemaking, and include explanations in support of the 
commenter's recommendations. Comments received after the time indicated 
under ``DATES'' or at locations other than the Albuquerque Field Office 
will not necessarily be considered in the final rulemaking or included 
in the administrative record.

2. Public Hearing

    Persons wishing to testify at the public hearing should contact the 
person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT by 4:00 p.m., 
m.s.t., February 27, 1995. Any disabled individual who has need for a 
special accommodation to attend a public hearing should contact the 
individual listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. The location 
and time of the hearing will be arranged with those persons requesting 
the hearing. If no one requests an opportunity to testify at the public 
hearing, the hearing will not be held.
    Filing of a written statement at the time of the hearing is 
requested as it will greatly assist the transcriber. Submission of 
written statements in advance of the hearing will allow OSM officials 
to prepare adequate responses and appropriate questions.
    The public hearing will continue on the specified date until all 
persons scheduled to testify have been heard. Persons in the audience 
who have not been scheduled to testify, and who wish to do so, will be 
heard following those who have been scheduled. The hearing will end 
after all persons scheduled to testify and persons present in the 
audience who wish to testify have been heard.

3. Public Meeting

    If only one person requests an opportunity to testify at a hearing, 
a public meeting, rather than a public hearing, may be held. Persons 
wishing to meet with OSM representatives to discuss the proposed 
amendment may request a meeting by contacting the person listed under 
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. All such meetings will be open to the 
public and, if possible, notices of meetings will be posted at the 
locations listed under ADDRESSES. A written summary of each meeting 
will be made a part of the administrative record.

V. Procedural Determinations

1. Executive Order 12866

    This rule is exempted from review by the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB) under Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and 

2. Executive Order 12778

    The Department of the Interior has conducted the reviews required 
by section 2 of Executive Order 12778 (Civil Justice Reform) and has 
determined that this rule meets the applicable standards of subsections 
(a) and (b) of that section. However, these standards are not 
applicable to the actual language of State or Tribal AMLR plans and 
revisions thereof since each such plan is drafted and promulgated by a 
specific State or Tribe, not by OSM. Decisions on proposed State or 
Tribe AMLR plans and revisions thereof submitted by a State or Tribe 
are based on a determination of whether the submittal meets the 
requirements of Title IV of SMCRA (30 U.S.C. 1231-1243) and the 
applicable Federal regulations at 30 CFR Parts 884 and 888.

3. National Environmental Policy Act

    No environmental impact statement is required for this rule since 
agency decisions on proposed State or Tribe AMLR plans and revisions 
thereof are categorically excluded from compliance with the National 
Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4332) by the Manual of the 
Department of the Interior (516 DM 6, appendix 8, paragraph 8.4B(29)).

4. Paperwork Reduction Act

    This rule does not contain information collection requirements that 
require approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 
3507 et seq.).

5. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Department of the Interior has determined that this rule will 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). 
The Tribal submittal which is the subject of this rule is based upon 
Federal regulations for which an economic analysis was prepared and 
certification made that such regulations would not have a significant 
economic effect upon a substantial number of small entities. 
Accordingly, this rule will ensure that existing requirements 
established by SMCRA or previously promulgated by OSM will be 
implemented by the Tribe. In making the determination as to whether 
this rule would have a significant economic impact, the Department 
relied upon the data and assumptions in the analyses for the 
corresponding Federal regulations.

List of Subjects in 30 CFR Part 756

    Abandoned mine land reclamation program, Indian lands.

    Dated: February 2, 1995.
Charles E. Sandberg,
Acting Assistant Director, Western Support Center.
[FR Doc. 95-3314 Filed 2-9-95; 8:45 am]