SMARA RULEMAKING: Are you involved?

Are you ready to comply with the January 1, 2017, changes to the Surface Mine and Reclamation Act (SMARA)?

The SMARA Changes
On April 18th, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the most substantive SMARA update in more than 20 years: Senate Bill 209 (Pavley) and Assembly Bill 1142 (Gray). These two bills include changes to the statute affecting mine operators and SMARA lead agencies. Starting January 1, 2017, changes are required for:

  • reclamation plan content requirements and the review process;
  • annual inspection timing, report submittal, and inspector qualifications and training;
  • financial assurance cost estimate (FACE) submittal, review, and appeal processes; and
  • violation enforcement, financial assurance forfeiture, and State Mining and Geology Board (SMGB) appeals processes.

Upcoming Rulemaking
As a result of these broad changes, the Office of Mine Reclamation (OMR) (to be referred to as the Division of Mine Reclamation after January 1, per SB 209 changes) is assisting the SMGB in implementing the proposed changes to the SMARA regulations. The SMGB anticipates eight rulemaking packages necessary to update the SMARA regulations. The rulemaking to occur over the next 2 years applies to:

  • FACE forms,
  • annual inspections,
  • FACE and reclamation plan appeals,
  • financial assurance mechanism forms,
  • enforcement and order to comply appeals,
  • financial assurance mechanism forfeiture, and
  • corporate financial testing for financial assurance mechanisms (corporate self-bonding).

FACE Forms
At the November 10, 2016, SMGB meeting, the SMGB approved the rulemaking package for the new FACE forms. Draft updated FACE forms are now available for review and comment through January 2017.

Upcoming Actions
The SMGB anticipates approval and submittal of the final rulemaking package to the Office of Administrative Law in February 2017. At the same meeting, the SMGB approved prerulemaking for the annual inspections rulemaking package. OMR and SMGB will be holding a meeting in Redding on December 6, 2016, 8:30 a.m.–noon, to receive initial feedback from agencies, industry, and the public. If you cannot attend to voice your opinions, OMR is accepting written comments (see for details).

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