OFFICE OF SURFACE MINING RECLAMATION AND ENFORCEMENT
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, click here.
Zelda Curtiss, Esquire
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Department of Environmental Resources
1303 Highland Building
121 S. Highland Avenue
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15206-3988
INQUIRY: The Environmental Hearing Board issued an Adjudication on the forfeiture of surface mining bonds. The Board found numerous violations of Pennsylvania Surface Mining Act and Regulations on the site. However, the Board held that the DER had failed to meet its burden to how what bond instrument covered liability for the site where the violation existed, the Board then vacated the DER bond forfeiture action. Locate any case law which explains that once violations of law are proven at a mine site, the bonds must be forfeited.
SEARCH RESULTS: Using both COALEX and LEXIS, searches were conducted in state and federal regulations and in state case law.
A list of the regulations and case law identified as a result of the research and the topics they address follows. Copies of the materials are enclosed. A copy of State Inquiry Report - 102, which discusses a similar issue, is also enclosed. The relevant cases from Report 102 are discussed in the main body of this report.
30 C.F.R. 800.50 FORFEITURE OF BONDS DESCRIBES THE PROCEDURES TO FOLLOW WHEN THE RECLAMATION IS NOT PERFORMED AND THE REGULATORY AGENCY TAKES ACTION TO FORFEIT THE BONDS.
800.50(a) "If an operator refuses or is unable to conduct reclamation of an unabated violation, if the terms of the permit are not met, or if the operator defaults on the conditions under which the bond was accepted, the regulatory authority shall take the following action to forfeit all or part of a bond or bonds for any permit area or an increment of a permit area:...."
800.50(a)(2)(ii) "The regulatory authority may allow a surety to complete the reclamation plan, or the portion of the reclamation plan applicable to the bonded phase or increment, if the surety can demonstrate an ability to complete the reclamation in accordance with the approved reclamation plan. Except where the regulatory authority may approve partial release authorized under section 800.40, no surety liability shall be released until successful completion of all reclamation under the terms of the permit, including applicable liability periods of section 800.13."
800.50(c) "Upon default, the regulatory authority may cause the forfeiture of any and all bonds deposited to complete reclamation for which the bonds were posted. Unless specifically limited, as provided in section 800.11(b), bond liability shall extend to the entire permit area under conditons of forfeiture."
30 C.F.R. 800.40 REQUIREMENTS TO RELEASE PERFORMANCE BONDS.
800.40(a)(2) "...The advertisement shall be considered part of any bond release application and shall contain the permittee's name, permit number and approval date, notification of the precise location of the land affected, the number of acres, the type and amount of the bond filed and the pertion sought to be released, the type and appropriate dates of reclamation work performed, a descritpion of the results achieved as they relate to the permittee's approved reclamation plan...." [emphasis added]
800.40(b) "Inspection by regulatory authority. (1) Upon receipt of the bond release application, the regulatory authority shall...conduct an inspection and evaluation of the reclamation work involved."
800.40(c) "The regulatory authority may release all or part of the bond for the entire permit area or incremental area if the regulatory authority is satisfied that all the reclamation or a phase of the reclamation covered by the bond or portion thereof has been accomplished in accordance with the following schedules for reclamation of Phases I, II, and III:...." [emphasis added]
30 C.F.R. 800.11 REQUIREMENTS TO FILE A BOND.
800.11(b)(1) "The bond or bonds shall cover the entire permit area, or an identified increment of land within the permit area upon which the operator will initiate and conduct surface coal mining and reclamation operations during the initial term of the permit."
800.11(b)(2) "As surface coal mining and reclamation operations on succeeding increments are initiated and conducted within the permit area, the permittee shall file with the regulatory authority an additonal bond or bonds to cover such increments in accordance with this section."
800.11(b)(3) "The operator shall identify the initial and successive areas or increments for bonding on the permit applicaton map submitted for approval as provided in the applicaton...and shall specify the bond amount to be provided for each area or increment."
25 PA. CODE 86.182 PROCEDURES.
86.182(c) "The Department will forfeit all bond deposited for a permit area, including all designated phases of a permit area and amended permit areas, except for such portion of bond which has been released as provided in Part 4 of this subchapter. Liability on every bond posted for a permit area, designated phase of a permit area, or an amendment thereof, [will] shall cover any violation within the permit area or resulting from mining of the permit area."
25 PA. CODE 86.171 PROCEDURES FOR SEEKING RELEASE OF BOND.
86.171(b) "Newspaper advertisement of application.... The application shall: (3) show the precise location and the number of acres of the lands subject to the application; (4) show the total amount of bond in effect for the permit area and the amount for which release is sought;" [emphasis added]
86.171(d) "The Department will inspect and evaluate the reclamation work involved...."
25 PA. CODE 86.172 CRITERIA AND SCHEDULE FOR RELEASE OF BOND.
86.172(a) "The Department will not release any portion of the liability under bonds applicable to a permit area or designated phase of a permit area until it finds that the permittee has accomplished the reclamation schedule of this section." [emphasis added]
The decisions described in this section stipulate that part of the bond must be released if specified portions of the permit land have been fully reclaimed. The relevant portions of the opinions are quoted below.
PERSONAL SERVICE INS. CO. v CALL, 459 N.E.2d 1307 (1983).
COMMONWEAL OF PENNSYLVANIA v OGDEN, 501 A.2d 311 (1985). [Report 102 - Attachment B].
PERSONAL SERVICE INS. CO. v MAMONE, Slip Opinion (Ohio Ct. App. 1986) [No. 85 CA 1, Fourth Appellate District] [Report 102 -Attachment C].
PERSONAL SERVICE INS. CO. v MAMONE, Slip Opinion (Ohio Ct. App. 1985) [No. 418, Fourth Appellate District] [Report 102 - Attachment D].
"While miners and sureties have rights to a full inspection and a proportional release of the bond after termination orders, no such rights exist after disapproval orders. Appellant will have to wait until the chief makes a termination order before appellant can be partially released from the bond."
TIGER CORP. v CALL, 456 N.E.2d 554 (1982).
As required by R.C. 1513.16(F), an order of the Division of Reclamation must "locate with sufficient specificity the land not reclaimed." The Court determined "Because the order specifies that Tiger failed to reclaim the entire 18.2 acres mined, it does locate with sufficient specificity the land Tiger failed to reclaim."
The following opinions hold that reclamation bonds are penal in nature and, therefore, the entire amount of the bond must be forfeited upon its breach.
STATE OF TENNESSEE v GULF AMERICAN FIRE & CASUALTY CO., 680 S.W.2d 455 (1984).
AMERICAN CASUALTY CO. v COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, 441 A.2d 1383 (1982).
AMERICAN DRUGGISTS INS. CO. v COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY, 670 S.W.2d 485 (1984).
These cases address the issue of res judicata, as applied to administrative actions and hearings.
SOUTHWEST PENNSYLVANIA NATURAL RESOURCES, INC. v COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, 465 A.2d 108 (1983).
"The [Environmental Hearing] Board's regulation on rehearings and reconsiderations provides as follows:
"The Board may on its own motion or upon application of counsel...grant reargument before the board en banc. Such action will be taken only for compelling and persuasive reasons, and will generally be limited to instances where:
"(1) The decision rests on a legal ground not considered by any party to the proceedingand that the parties in good faith should have had an opportunity to brief such question.
"(2) The crucial facts set forth in the application are not as stated in the decision and are such as would justify a reversal of the decision. In such a case reconsideration would only be granted if the evidence sought to be offered by the party requesting the reconsideration could not with due diligence have offered the evidence at the time of the hearing. 25 Pa. Code Sect. 21.122(a)"
CITY OF INDEPENDENCE v MAYNARD, 495 N.E.2d 444 (1985).
From the syllabus: "While res judicata does apply to administrative hearings, it should be applied with flexibility and only where the administrative proceeding has been of a judicial nature and the parties have had an adequate opportunity to litigate the issues in the proceeding."
ALLIED FIDELITY INS. CO. V. ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY COUNCIL, 753 P.2d 1038 (1988) [Report 102 - Attachment I].
"Whatever res judicata is occasioned by the requested administrative action, it would seem preferable to the agency than final disposition by civil lawsuit."
Research conducted by: Joyce Zweben Scall