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      RS 30:905     

  

§905.  Jurisdiction and powers; rules and regulations

A.  The Department of Natural Resources, Office of Conservation, or such persons as may be designated by the commissioner, is hereby designated as the official agency whose duty it is to administer the regulations and guidelines contained in this Chapter and to institute such other reasonable regulations and guidelines, after notice and public hearing, as may become necessary pursuant to this Chapter to protect state and private lands from unreasonable degradation by any operator engaged in surface coal mining operations.  Exclusive jurisdiction over all aspects of surface coal mining and reclamation shall be vested in the Department of Natural Resources, Office of Conservation.  The Secretary of Natural Resources shall be responsible for the policies of the State relating to the development of the State's lignite reserves, including the transportation and utilization thereof, and shall formulate plans and shall advise the Governor and the Legislature with respect to short and long term policies of the State concerning the development of the State's lignite reserves, including the transportation and utilization thereof, and the integration of the development of the State's lignite reserves into the development of the State's fuel sources.  The secretary of the Department of Natural Resources in cooperation with the Commissioner of Conservation shall establish, for the purpose of avoiding duplication, a process for coordinating the review and issuance of permits for surface coal mining and reclamation operations with any other federal or state permit process applicable to the proposed operations.

B.  The authority shall be vested in the commissioner, and such other persons as may be designated by the commissioner, to administer and enforce the provisions of this Chapter, and he shall seek the accomplishment of the purposes of this Chapter by all practicable and economically feasible methods and in so doing shall have the following duties and powers:

(1)  To make those expenditures which he deems necessary to accomplish the purposes of this Chapter.

(2)  To adopt, amend, and issue rules and regulations in accordance with the requirements of the Louisiana Administrative Procedure Act, except where the provisions of the Louisiana Administrative Procedure Act are in conflict with the provisions of this Chapter, in which case the provisions of this Chapter and the regulations issued by the commissioner pursuant to this Chapter shall govern, pertaining to surface coal mining and reclamation operations consistent with the general intent and purposes of this Chapter, including regulations consistent with regulations issued by the secretary of the Interior pursuant to the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, as amended as required for the state to assume and retain exclusive jurisdiction over the regulation of surface coal mining and reclamation operations pursuant to Section 503 of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, as amended.  The commissioner may issue regulations without public notice and hearing in the event regulations must be issued to ensure timely action by the state in the assumption or retention by the state of exclusive jurisdiction over the regulation of surface coal mining and reclamation operations pursuant to Section 503 of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, as amended.

(3)  To issue permits pursuant to the provisions herein.

(4)  To conduct hearings pursuant to the provisions herein.

(5)  To issue or modify orders reasonably necessary or take such actions as are necessary to carry out the provisions of this Chapter and regulations adopted hereunder.

(6)  To receive by gift, grant, donation or otherwise any sum of money, and/or assistance from any person or the United States, its agencies, the state of Louisiana or any political subdivision thereof for the enactment and enforcement of this Chapter and the mining and reclamation of land affected by surface coal mining operations.

(7)  To employ such officers, agents, employees, and professional personnel, including legal counsel, as he deems necessary for the performance of his powers and duties and prescribe the powers and duties and fix the compensation of such officers, agents, employees, and professional personnel.

(8)  To issue an order, ordering a cessation of surface coal mining and/or reclamation operations, or revoking the permit of an operator who has failed to comply with an order of the commissioner to take any action required by this Chapter or rules and regulations issued pursuant to this Chapter.  In the event the permit is revoked, the operator's performance bond or cash or collateral securities shall be forfeited if it is determined that this is necessary to reclaim the area of land affected by the operator's surface coal mining operation.

(9)  To contract, upon such terms as he may agree upon, for legal, financial, engineering and other professional services necessary to expedite the conduct of the affairs of the Department of Natural Resources, Office of Conservation, under the provisions of this Act.

(10)  To enter into contracts with state boards, agencies and soil and water conservation districts having expertise for the purposes of obtaining professional and technical services necessary to implement the provisions of this Chapter.

(11)  To exercise discretionary review pursuant to the provisions of this Chapter over all aspects of surface coal mining and reclamation operations performed within this State.

(12)  To personally or through his authorized legal counsel represent the State in all matters involving or affecting the interest of the State and its residents relative to proceedings before any federal agencies, offices and congressional committees and in all judicial actions arising out of the proceedings of such agencies, offices and committees or in relation thereto and to appear in the courts and before agencies of this State or of other states in order to carry out the purposes of this Chapter.

(13)  To commence and prosecute legal actions as authorized in this Act, including legal actions against the Secretary of the Interior and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement as authorized by this Chapter.

(14)  To take those steps necessary to enable the state to participate to the fullest extent practicable in the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program provided in Title IV of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, as amended, 30 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.

C.  A rule, regulation or order, or any amendment thereof, adopted by the commissioner may differ in its terms and provisions as between particular conditions, particular mining techniques, particular areas of the State or any other conditions that appear relevant and necessary so long as the action taken is consistent with the attainment of the general intent and purpose of this Chapter.  In adopting rules, regulations and orders the commissioner shall give due recognition to the fact that although certain surface coal mining and reclamation operations may cause a need for particular regulatory control in one area of the State, such control may not be necessary or desirable for another area of the State due to the unique characteristics of each type of surface mining and the various economic and environmental factors relating to same, and the commissioner shall take into account, in this connection, all factors found by him to be proper and just, including the existing climatology, topography, vegetation and all other physical conditions, populations, mining and reclamation techniques, the economic and social impact of the proposed rule, regulation or order, and the fact that the rule, regulation or order and the degrees of conformance therewith which may be proper as to one area of the State may not be proper or practicable as to another area of the State.

Acts 1978, No. 406, §1.  Amended by Acts 1980, No. 121, §1, eff. June 27, 1980.  Acts 1983, No. 573, §1; Acts 2008, No. 278, §1.



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