82-4-228. Designation of land unsuitable for coal mining. (1) Any person having an interest that is or may be adversely affected may petition the department to have an area designated as unsuitable for strip- or underground-coal-mining operations or to have a designation terminated. The petition shall contain allegations of facts with supporting evidence which would tend to establish the allegations. Within 10 months after receipt of the petition, the department shall hold a public hearing in the locality of the affected area after giving appropriate notice and publication of the date, time, and location thereof. Before the hearing, any person may intervene by filing allegations of facts with supporting evidence which would tend to establish the allegations. Within 60 days after the hearing, the department shall issue and furnish to the petitioner and any other party to the hearing a written decision regarding the petition and the reasons therefor. The hearing need not be held if all petitioners reach agreement prior to the requested hearing and withdraw their request.
(2) If petitioned, the department shall review the area petitioned for pursuant to this section and:
(a) shall designate it as an area unsuitable for all or certain types of strip- or underground-coal-mining operations if it is determined that reclamation pursuant to the requirements of this part is not technologically and economically feasible; and
(b) may designate it as an area unsuitable for all or certain types of strip or underground coal mining if the proposed coal mining operations will:
(i) be incompatible with existing state or local land use plans or programs to the extent they affect mining in the area; or
(ii) affect fragile or historic lands in which these operations could result in significant damage to important historic, cultural, scientific, and esthetic values and natural systems; or
(iii) affect renewable resource lands in which these operations could result in a substantial loss or reduction of long-range productivity of water supply or of food or fiber products, these lands to include aquifers and aquifer recharge areas; or
(iv) affect natural hazard lands in which these operations could substantially endanger life and property, these lands to include areas subject to frequent flooding and areas of unstable geology.
(3) Prior to designating any land areas as unsuitable for strip- or underground-coal-mining operations, the department shall prepare a detailed statement on:
(a) the potential coal resources of the area;
(b) the demand for coal resources; and
(c) the impact of this designation on the environment, economy, and supply of coal.
(4) A designation does not prevent mineral exploration pursuant to this part of any area so designated.
(5) The requirements of this section do not apply to lands on which strip- or underground-coal-mining operations are being conducted pursuant to a permit issued under this part or where substantial legal and financial commitments in these operations were in existence prior to January 4, 1977.
History: En. Sec. 10, Ch. 550, L. 1979.