BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    




                   Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary
                           Senator Christine Kehoe, Chair

                                          SB 108 (Rubio)
          
          Hearing Date: 05/16/2011        Amended: 05/03/2011
          Consultant: Brendan McCarthy    Policy Vote: NR&W 9-0
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          BILL SUMMARY: SB 108 changes the standard for classifying a 
          surface mine as idle. The bill also authorizes the extension of 
          an approved interim management plan for a surface mine.
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                            Fiscal Impact (in thousands)

           Major Provisions         2011-12      2012-13       2013-14     Fund
           
          Oversight of idle mine $85        $100        $100      Special 
          *
             classification

          * Mine Reclamation Account.
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          STAFF COMMENTS: 
          
          Current law, the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA), 
          regulates the operation and reclamation of surface mines in the 
          state. Under SMARA, mines are categorized as active or idle. 
          (Mines no longer producing and in the process of reclamation are 
          considered active.) The owners of all surface mines are required 
          to have in place a reclamation plan for post-mining cleanup of 
          the site and financial assurances that are sufficient to pay for 
          the ultimate reclamation of the mine. In addition, owners of 
          idle mines are required to file Interim Management Plans that 
          detail how the mine will be maintained during the idle period. 
          Mines that are not in compliance with these provisions are 
          considered abandoned. Currently there are 100 idle mines in the 
          state. In addition, the Department indicates that there are an 
          additional 306 mines that have sufficiently low production to 
          qualify as idle.

          SB 108 changes the statutory definition of idle for purposes of 
          SMARA. Under the bill, a mine would be considered idle if 








          SB 108 (Rubio)
          Page 1


          production was curtailed to less than 90 percent of its maximum 
          production within any of the last five years. In addition, a 
          mine would not be considered idle if the operator could 
          demonstrate that the mine is not idle. (The purpose of the bill 
          is to prevent mines that are still operating, but at a 
          diminished capacity, from being deemed idle.)

          The bill also authorizes a lead agency to extend the duration of 
          an interim management plan for additional five-year terms.

          Because a significant number of low-production mines are likely 
          to qualify as active under the bill, the Department of 
          Conservation indicates that it will need an additional staff 
          position to review production information from those mines to 
          verify that the mines are, in fact, active.