OFFICE OF SURFACE MINING RECLAMATION AND ENFORCEMENT
Library of COALEX Research Reports
COALEX Research Reports are the products of research and analysis conducted on specific issues relating to the regulation of Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977. The research is conducted in response to requests for information from State Regulatory Authorities, under a cooperative agreement between the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) and the Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC).
COALEX refers to the Library of Surface Mining Materials maintained by OSM in LEXIS-NEXIS and is a major source for the research.
Each Report includes a list of resources which were sent as attachments to the individual who requested the research. To obtain a copy of the attachments or to obtain any additional information, contact Joyce Zweben Scall by phone at 202-686-9138 or by email at JZScall@aol.com.
COALEX STATE INQUIRY REPORT - 311
Assistant Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
#3 Triad, Suite 475
355 West North Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah 84180-1204
TOPIC: WATER RIGHTS AND REPLACEMENT UPDATE
INQUIRY: Please provide the most recent cases and other materials available on water rights and replacement issues. Broaden the research to include case law addressed to the issue of the burden of proof as it relates to water replacement and as it relates to the scope of review where the issue involves a revision to an existing permit to mine additional coal.
SEARCH RESULTS: Research was conducted using the COALEX Library, LEXIS and existing COALEX State Inquiry Reports. Several recent Pennsylvania and Ohio decisions were identified that address the issue of proving responsibility for dewatering wells, contaminating water supplies, replacing water supplies, etc. Other cases were identified that address other aspects of the water supply and replacement question. No cases were identified that specifically discussed water replacement where a permit revision is involved. However, the preambles to proposed and final rules on permit revisions, hydrology and water replacement discuss revision requirements, and operator and regulatory authority responsibility with regard to these issues. Copies of the materials listed below are attached.
PRIOR COALEX REPORTS
COALEX STATE INQUIRY REPORT - 241, "Replacement of water supply - payment of ongoing costs" (1993).
COALEX STATE INQUIRY REPORT - 203, "Water supply and replacement for underground mining (Includes Reports 35 & 93)" (1992).
COALEX STATE COMPARISON REPORT - 210, "Subsidence: compensation for damaged structures and water supply" (1992).
INTERIOR ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS
MARTHA AND ROY A. MCBRIDE, 129 IBLA 112, IBLA 91-112 (1994).
"Under 30 CFR 816.42(h), any person who conducts surface mining activities is required to replace the water supply of an owner of interest in real property who obtains all or part of his or her supply of water for domestic, agricultural, industrial, or other legitimate use from an underground or surface source, where the water supply has been adversely impacted by contamination, diminution, or interruption proximately resulting from the surface mining activities. The replacement requirement is controlled by the owner's pre-existing uses of the water supply."
PENNSYLVANIA ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS
HAYDU v COMMW. OF PENN. DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES, EHB Docket No. 92-154-MJ, 1994 Pa Envirn LEXIS 40 (1994).
The Board found the Haydu failed to show that the Department abused its discretion in issuing a permit to PBS Coals, Inc. The evidence showed that the two seam mines will not affect the well functioning as a replacement water supply which is located above the seam mines. Coal was extracted from the two mines "to minimize the amount of subsidence that will occur. Any subsidence that does occur will fall far short of reaching the E seam aquifer or [the replacement well].... Moreover, should any repair work or replacement be required for [the replacement well], this is provided for by the trust agreement."
BEARER T/D/B/A NORTH CAMBRIA FUEL CO. v COMMW. OF PENN. DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES, EHB Docket No. 83-091-G, 1993 Pa Envirn LEXIS 82 (1993).
SYNOPSIS: "The Department met its burden of establishing that the water supplies, which were in the vicinity of the operator's mine site, were degraded by his mining activities. Therefore, the Department's order to restore the supplies to a condition 'equal to or better than the pre-mining quantity and quality' was not an abuse of discretion."
CARLSON MINING CO. v DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES (DER), 639 A 2d 1332 (Pa Commw Ct 1994). CARLSON MINING CO. v COMMW. OF PENN., DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES, EHB Docket No. 91-547-E, 1993 Pa Envirn LEXIS 70 (1993).
The court affirmed the orders of the Environmental Hearing Board in ruling on the three issues on appeal:
HINDMAN v SCHIAPPA, 1990 Ohio App LEXIS 5664 (Ohio Ct App 1990). [Excerpts]
The court held that the plaintiff failed to establish that "their shortage of water was directly the result of mining operations nor did the appellants collectively establish the quantity of their water supply before mining operations as compared to after mining operations."
SME BESSEMER CEMENT, INC. v MAMONE, 1988 Ohio App LEXIS 110 (1988).
An investigation by the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Reclamation concluded that the Krug well was dewatered as a result of the interception of SME Bessemer Cement's surface coal mining operations with the flooded, abandoned "Old McKinley mine". The Division determined that each of the three replacement wells drilled by SME Bessemer Cement were inadequate. In the CO, the Division contended that the replacement water supply "failed to duplicate or even approach premining sodium levels of the Krug water supply and, further, that SME Bessemer Cement, Inc. had failed to perform other necessary actions for water replacement such as the plugging of the two other replacement wells so as to prevent well to well contamination...."
The court affirmed the Reclamation Board of Review's ruling vacating the CO holding that there was no premining test sample of the Krug water supply to substantiate the view of the Division.
NATURAL RESOURCES COMMN. (NRC) OF INDIANA v AMAX COAL CO., 638 NE 2d 418 (Indiana 1994).
This consolidated case involves the attachment of conditions to Amax's permit prohibiting the use of "dewatering" wells and requiring additional surveys on the possible effects of the depressurizing wells and the related issue of B & LS Contracting's planned pumping of water from its mining pits which would drain adjacent property owners' lakes.
In the AMAX case, the court held that NRC was acting within its statutory authority when it conditioned approval of the AMAX permit upon further hydrologic studies after having determined that the proposed plan to preserve the hydrologic balance was deficient.
As in the B & LS case, the court held that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was acting within its statutory authority when ordering B & LS to revise its permit. "Following AMAX, the DNR made a retroactive determination that B & LS's application was not in compliance with I-SMCRA, and ordered B & LS to show either that B & LS operations would not cause damage as the result of the lowering of off-site water bodies, or that B & LS had purchased a right of entry to those off-site lakes that allowed the lakes to be lowered. The DNR has the authority to require a permittee to revise or modify a permit, although the revision must be based upon a written finding and is subject to notice and hearing requirements."
CARTER v AMERICAN AGGREGATES CORP., 611 NE 2d 512 (Ohio Ct App 1992).
The court affirmed the trial court's ruling that the plaintiffs' claim was barred by the statute of limitations. American Aggregates interfered with the plaintiffs' underground water supply, causing their well to dry up in 1980. Plaintiffs conceded that "they have suffered no compensable injuries since 1982 when they drilled the second well, which afforded them adequate water acceptable both in quality and quantity."
VILLAGE OF PLEASANT CITY v OHIO DEPT. OF NATURAL RESOURCES, DIV. OF RECLAMATION, 617 NE 2d 1103 (Ohio 1993).
SYLLABUS: "In determining the unsuitability of lands for coal mining, R.C. 1513.073 (A)(2)(c) requires consideration of the impact that mining and reclamation could have on the long-range productivity of aquifers and aquifer recharge areas, not solely the impact on their current use as a water supply."
Attached for background are the following preambles to proposed and final rules, published in the Federal Register:
PERMIT REVISION/RENEWAL/SIGNIFICANT REVISION
Research conducted by: Joyce Zweben Scall