(a) There is created a Division of Hearings and Appeals within the Alabama Surface Mining Commission to enforce this article. The division shall have such powers and authority as required by law and as delegated by the director.
(b) The commission may hire or contract with hearing officers to hear and determine appeals from regulatory, enforcement, or other activities of the commission. A hearing officer shall be a member of and in good standing with the Alabama State Bar.
(c) No person shall serve as a hearing officer who has any direct or indirect financial interest in an underground or surface coal mining operation or who has been employed by or represented any coal mine operator within the previous 24 months.