BILL ANALYSIS Ó 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 _________________________________________________________________ ____ 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. _________________________________________________________________ ____ 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. _________________________________________________________________ ____ 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.