Comment Today on Non-Coal Regulation Revisions

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Comment Today on Non-Coal Regulation Revisions  
Posted: February 27, 2003
In response to a declaration of emergency by Governor Patton, the Department for Surface Mining revised the regulations governing the extraction of limestone, sand and gravel, and other non-coal minerals to improve the protection of the public and environment from such activities. While still in need of improvement in certain areas, the emergency regulations are a dramatic improvement over the existing regulations in several areas, notably considering the impact of these operations on local public roads.

When the emergency regulations were adopted, the process of adopting permanent regulations was begun with a filing of a "Notice of Intent" to publish such regulations. Today is the close of the comment period on the notice of intent, and after considering the comments the Cabinet will publish proposed regulations to replace the emergency regulations.

KRC has submitted the attached comments. Please take a minute and e-mail the Cabinet at, with a copy to the Cabinet Secretary at and tell them you support KRC's comments and appreciate their effort to improve Kentucky's regulation of non-coal mining.




Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.

Post Office Box 1070

Frankfort, Kentucky 40602

(502) 875-2428 phone (502) 875-2845 fax



February 27, 2003


Hank List, Secretary By fax 502-564-0054

Natural Resources and Environmental

Protection Cabinet

5th Floor Capital Plaza Tower

Frankfort, KY 40601


Jim Villines By fax 502-564-5698

Department for Surface Mining

#2 Hudson Hollow

Frankfort, Kentucky 40601


Re: Notice of Intent To Promulgate Non-Coal Mining Regulations

405 KAR 5:001, 5:030, 5:035, 5:038, 5:045, 5:053. 5:060

5:075 and 5:080


Dear Secretary List and Mr. Villines:


These comments are submitted by the Kentucky Resources Council, Inc. (KRC) on behalf of the many communities and individuals whom the Council has had the privilege to represent over these past 19 years in matters relating to proposed extraction of non-coal minerals. In the course of three administrative cases in which KRC provided representation to opponents of limestone (Olive Hill Investment Corporation, Sterling Ventures) and sand and gravel mining operations (Nugent Sand Company), KRC has become familiar with the program and those areas in which the statutory purposes of public and environmental protection have not been fully realized in the implementing regulations.


KRC appreciates the efforts of the Patton Administration to reform and strengthen the non-coal regulations in several critical areas where the current regulations, as interpreted and applied by the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet, are underprotective of public health, safety and the environment.


As a signatory state to the Interstate Mining Compact, the Commonwealth of Kentucky committed to be bound by an agreement, codified in statute, to extend protection to the public and environment from the adverse effects of non-coal mineral extraction.


KRS 350.300 provides the specific statutory backdrop against which the sufficiency of the non-coal regulations must to be measured. KRS 350.300 represents the General Assembly?s decision to join the Interstate Mining Compact (IMC), and the enactment of the Compact into state law by the General Assembly obligated Kentucky as a “party state” to the Compact. Among the commitments of the legislature in enacting the IMC are these concerning non-coal mining regulation:




Each party state agrees that within a reasonable time it will

formulate and establish an effective program for the conser-

vation and use of mined land, by the establishment of standards,

enactment of laws, or the continuing of the same in force, to



l. The protection of the public and the protection of adjoining

and other landowners from damage to their lands and the

structures and other property thereon resulting from the conduct

of mining operations or the abandonment or neglect of land and

property formerly used in the conduct of such operations.


2. The conduct of mining and the handling of refuse and other

mining wastes in ways that will reduce adverse effects on the

economic, residential, recreational or aesthetic value and utility

of land and water.


3. The institution and maintenance of suitable programs for

adaptation, restoration, and rehabilitation of mined lands.


4. The prevention, abatement and control of water, air, and

soil pollution resulting from mining, present, past and future.


KRS 350.300.


The law sets certain benchmarks that regulations, and the application of those regulations, must meet:


- the program must be effective in the conservation of mined land;


- the public and adjoining and other landowners must be protected from damage to their property;


- the mining, and handling of mine wastes, must be done in a way that reduces adverse effects on the different values of surrounding lands, including aesthetic values;


- water, air and soil pollution must be prevented, abated and controlled.


The statutory mandate is clear for an effective regulatory program for non-coal mining containing permit requirements to demonstrate that the mining operation will be conducted in a manner that satisfies the statutory mandates regarding environmental and public protection.


Unfortunately, in 1995, due to intense lobbying from the non-coal mineral industries, the Cabinet’s proposed regulations were weakened and several key provisions not included. It is past time that reasonable and specific regulatory provisions are included in the following areas in order to better direct the Cabinet, in reviewing permits for and regulating these operations, to fully protect the rights of other landowners and to prevent pollution.


Specific Comments


KRC has reviewed the emergency regulations, and assumes that in developing the replacement permanent regulations the Cabinet will use those emergency regulations as a template. Thus KRC's comments below reference the e-regulations.


405 KAR 5:001


KRC supports the inclusion of definitions for "approximate original contour" and "tar sand or rock asphalt" and the amendment to the definition of "mineral operation" to conform the regulation to the legislative intent that all non-coal mineral mining, including bitumen-bearing rocks, tar sand and rock asphalt be regulated. The existing regulatory exclusion is inappropriate, since it finds no support in the governing statute.


405 KAR 5:030


KRC supports the requirement that performance bonds be posted in all cases. (Section 3).


KRC supports the changes conforming the distance requirements for areas protected from mining to those currently required of coal mining operations, since there is no rational basis for providing lesser protection simply because of the type of mineral proposed to be mined. (Section 5).


KRC supports the change to Section 8 requiring submittal of underground mine maps. The location and extent of underground workings is a matter of

legitimate interest to surface landowners, both in order to assure that the mining is not removing minerals for which the operator does not have the legal right, and also to allow a determination of whether subsidence or other surface impacts are related to the mining.


KRC supports the strengthening of the post-mining land use requirements in Section 18.


Concerning the transportation plan requirement, there are few aspects of non-coal mining operations more controversial than those relating to transportation. As evidenced in the Nugent Sand Company case in Gallatin County, and also the Sterling Ventures case in that same area, the safety and quality of life of area residents can be compromised through a lack of attention to the transportation aspects of mining operations, including whether the product can be safely transported without adversely impacting public health and safety. An "effective" program for regulating non-coal minerals can no more be implemented without consideration of the transportation issues related to haulage of the mineral, than could the mining regulations be effective without considering roads used for haulage and access. The primary roads used for transportation of the non-coal mineral must be considered by the Cabinet and no

permit should issue absent an affirmative demonstration by the applicant that the use of the roads can occur without causing a threat to public health and safety.


The emergency regulation, unfortunately, falls somewhat short of what is needed to address the impacts. The limitation of the reporting to transportation of mineral by the applicant should be removed, since the impacts will not depend on whether the applicant is transporting the mineral. The reporting requirement should be imposed without regard for whether the applicant is moving the mineral or selling the mineral from the property to third-parties who then transport the mineral over those same roads.


KRC supports the clarification of the timing of the news advertisements, and the extension of public notice requirements to clearly require that permit amendments are subject to the same public notice and approval criteria as original permits.


405 KAR 5:035


KRC supports the proposed changes, but suggests that Section 6 be amended to clearly alert the permit applicant that the case-by-case approval of the sufficiency of the barrier will be made during the permit review process.


405 KAR 5:038


KRC supports the proposed changes to the regulation, particularly with respect to the requirement for a pre-blasting survey. There is no rational basis not to extend the protections provided from blasting for coal removal, and blasting for other mineral removal.


405 KAR 5:045


KRC supports the revisions to this regulation that conform the protection of areas unsuitable for mining to the coal program. Given that the coal regulations represent that level of public and resource protection that the General Assembly has determined to be necessary for public protection, it would be irrational and arbitrary to fail to extend those protections with respect to non-coal minerals, absent some rational basis inherent in the distinction between minerals that would support a lesser protection.


405 KAR 5:053


KRC strongly supports the regulation requiring replacement of water supplies where those supplies are adversely impacted by non-coal mining operations.


405 KAR 6:060, 5:075, 5:080


KRC supports the revisions to these regulations.


Additional Comments


KRC suggests that these provisions, already required in the coal mining regulations and representing that level of environmental protection deemed appropriate by the legislature for mining operations, should also be incorporated into non-coal regulations. If they are not adopted, the Cabinet must justify why, when the goal of protection of the rights of other landowners and the environment underscores both coal and non-coal program enabling statutes, it determines not to extend these requirements to non-coal mining when it believes them necessary in the coal mining context:


* More rigorous permit application information relating to the hydrology

and geology of the proposed mining area; including:


- a requirement that the permit applicant provide information concerning surface and ground water quality and quantity, the presence of toxic or acid-producing overburden;


- dust control plans;


- identification of groundwater resources, well-users surveys and groundwater protection plans, including information necessary to

support a regulatory determination as to whether water

supplies have been damaged by mining;


- a clear requirement that sediment control measures be demonstrated to be effective in meeting the requirements of the KPDES program, and that the Cabinet make an independent review of the adequacy of the sediment control measures prior to permit issuance;


* A requirement for an analysis of the probable hydrologic impacts of the mine and the cumulative hydrologic impact, as well as a description of protective measures to protect surface water quality and groundwater quality and recharge;


* A clear requirement that all drainage from disturbed areas

be passed through a sediment pond designed and demonstrated through

modeling to meet all applicable effluent and water quality limitations;


* A spoil handling plan containing spoil calculations, spoil handling, sediment, dust and erosion control, and permanent disposal of the spoil, to allow a reasoned determination that the manner of spoil handling, storage and redistribution is consistent with law.


* Sufficient and complete information concerning ownership of minerals to support permit issuance and a requirement that no permit issue where the

right to enter and mine has not been demonstrated;


* A process for designating areas as unsuitable for some or all types of non-coal mining operations.


Additionally, there are several critical areas of impact from sand, gravel and limestone mining operations on neighbors that do not have counterparts in the coal regulations but should nevertheless be addressed:


* Prevention of off-site nuisances through controls on equipment noise and facility lighting;


* Hours of operation limitations;


Unless these reforms are also included, the mining of non-coal minerals will continue to impose avoidable adverse effects on the rights and quality of life of adjoining and nearby landowners and on the air, land and water resources of the Commonwealth in a manner inconsistent with the statutory direction to the Cabinet, and proposed non-coal mining operations will remain a source of contention in many communities.


KRC appreciates your consideration of these comments concerning reform in the regulation of non-coal operations, and urges you to finalize a meaningful set of reforms to finish the task begun in 1995 of requiring non-coal mineral operations to more fully internalize the cost of doing business, rather than imposing those costs on their neighbors and on the public's natural resources.





Tom FitzGerald






By Kentucky Resources Council on 02/27/2003 5:32 PM
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