Section 9-16-74

Surface Mining Commission - Powers.

In addition to any other powers conferred on it by law, the commission shall have the power to do all of the following:

(1) Adopt, amend, suspend, repeal, and enforce reasonably necessary rules and regulations, provided such rules and regulations shall not be more stringent than those promulgated by federal law, or rule or regulation, to control surface coal mining operations consistent with this article including the declaration of public policy and legislative intent contained in Section 9-16-71. Such rules and regulations may be for the state as a whole or may vary from area to area, as may be appropriate to accomplish the policy and intent of this article and in order to take into account varying local conditions.

(2) Hold public hearings as may be specified by law relating to any aspect or matter in the administration of this article and, in connection therewith, administer oaths and compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence. In the event of failure of any person to comply with any subpoena lawfully issued, or on the refusal of any witness to produce evidence or to testify as to any matter regarding which he or she may be lawfully interrogated, it shall be the duty of any court of competent jurisdiction, upon the application of the commission, to compel obedience by proceedings for contempt as if the disobedience occurred in such court.

(3) Issue such orders as may be necessary to effectuate the purposes of this article and enforce the same through appropriate administrative and judicial proceedings.

(4) Promulgate and enforce rules, regulations, and standards requiring the training, examination, and certification of persons engaging in or directly responsible for the use of explosives for the purpose of blasting in surface coal mining. Such rules and regulations shall include, but not be limited to, provisions for establishing and charging reasonable fees for the administration of these rules, regulations, and standards and for the training and examination of applicants for certification, for the renewal of certification, and for continuing education.

(5) Secure through its director necessary scientific, technical, administrative, and operational services, including laboratory facilities by contract or otherwise.

(6) Encourage voluntary cooperation by persons and groups to achieve the purposes of this article.

(7) Encourage and conduct through its director and staff studies, investigations, and research relating to surface mining reclamation.

(8) Establish and enforce coal surface mining reclamation standards for the state which may vary according to appropriate areas, provided they are not inconsistent with this article and the declaration of public policy and legislative intent contained in Section 9-16-71.

(9) Collect and disseminate information and conduct educational and training programs relating to surface coal mining and reclamation of land.

(10) Advise, consult, contract, and cooperate with other agencies of the state, local governments, industries, other states, interstate agencies, and the federal government and with interested persons or groups, especially, but not limited to, achieve one-stop permitting for surface coal mining operations and to transfer funds to carry out reclamation activities.

(11) Consult, upon request, with any person proposing to construct, install, or otherwise acquire a surface coal mine, concerning the efficacy of construction, installation, or acquisition of such surface mine. Nothing in any such consultation shall be construed to relieve any person from compliance with this article, rules and regulations in force pursuant to this article, or any other provision of law.

(12) Accept, receive, and administer grants or other funds or gifts from public and private agencies, including the federal government, for the purpose of carrying out any of the functions of this article. Funds received by the regulatory authority pursuant to this section shall be deposited in the State Treasury to the account of the Alabama Surface Mining Fund.

(13) Employ personnel and consultants, purchase such equipment and supplies, and lease or otherwise acquire through its director such property as may be necessary for the administration of this article. Subject to any applicable restrictions contained in law, any department or agency of the state, from its available resources, may provide the regulatory authority with personnel and services, with or without charge, and the regulatory authority may compensate other agencies for services.

(14) Provide for the performance by its director, deputy director, or staff and employees in the name of the commission, of any act or duty authorized by and consistent with administration of this article, except for the promulgation, modification, suspension, or repeal of standards, rules, and regulations.

(15) Perform other acts and duties consistent with this article as may be necessary to implement the declaration of public policy and legislative intent contained in Section 9-16-71.

(16) Provide for the establishment of advisory committees, appointment and adequate compensation for membership of the committees, scope of study and other duties, periods of duration, and terms of advisory members.

(17) Issue, modify, or revoke orders prohibiting actions which violate this article or the rules, regulations, or standards promulgated pursuant to this article and require affirmative action to bring any surface coal mining operation into compliance with this article.

(18) Issue, continue in effect, revoke, modify, or deny permits through its director and staff for the conduct of surface coal mining operations or explorations which are subject to this article.

(19) Issue warnings and initiate civil or criminal actions through its director and staff as provided for in this article.

(20) Acquire and maintain workers' compensation insurance in the amount prescribed by the workers' compensation laws of Alabama and such general liability insurance as may be reasonably necessary to assure adequate protection of the commission, its director, employees, and agents for lawful acts by them during the course of enforcing and administering this article.

(21)a. Enforce the state program, approved pursuant to Section 503 of the Federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, Public Law 95-87, 30 U.S.C. 1200.

b. The commission shall make every effort to obtain full reimbursement from the Director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement for the costs of performing its duties under paragraph a.

c. If P.L. 95-87 or any rules or regulations promulgated thereunder or the federal laws it amends are adjudged unconstitutional or invalid in their application, or stayed pending litigation in any court of competent jurisdiction over surface coal mining operations in Alabama, the Alabama Surface Mining Commission shall suspend the enforcement of this article to the extent of such adjudication, unconstitutionality, inapplicability, or stay.

d. If any of the commission's rules or regulations are adjudged unconstitutional or invalid in their application, or stayed pending litigation in any court of competent jurisdiction, the Alabama Surface Mining Commission shall have the power to enforce any valid, constitutional, and analogous provision of the rules and regulations promulgated under P.L. 95-87.

e. The State of Alabama, by any provision, part, or all of this article, does not waive any rights and powers reserved to it by the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and this subdivision shall not be interpreted so as to prevent the State of Alabama from protecting any and all of its rights and governmental powers through any legal action as might be determined by duly constituted officials of the State of Alabama.

(22) No commission member, employee of the commission, or any other state employee performing any function or duties under this article shall have a direct or indirect financial interest in underground or surface coal mining operations. Whoever knowingly violates this subdivision, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine of not more than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.

(Acts 1981, No. 81-435, p. 682, §5; Acts 1986, No. 86-106, p. 113, §3; Act 2004-484, p. 901, §1; Act 2010-498, p. 768, §1.)