BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                      



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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                   SB 108|
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                                 THIRD READING


          Bill No:  SB 108
          Author:   Rubio (D)
          Amended:  5/3/11
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE NATURAL RES. AND WATER COMMITTEE  :  9-0, 4/26/11
          AYES:  Pavley, La Malfa, Cannella, Evans, Fuller, Kehoe, 
            Padilla, Simitian, Wolk

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  8-0, 5/16/11
          AYES:  Kehoe, Alquist, Emmerson, Lieu, Pavley, Price, 
            Runner, Steinberg
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Walters


           SUBJECT  :    Surface mining:  idle mines

           SOURCE  :     California Construction and Industrial 
          Materials Association


           DIGEST  :    This bill changes the standard for classifying a 
          surface mine as idle, and also authorizes the extension of 
          an approved interim management plan (IMP) for a surface 
          mine.

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing law, under the Surface Mining and 
          Reclamation Act (SMARA) of 1975:

          1. Prohibits a person from conducting a surface mining 
             operation unless, among other things, a reclamation plan 
             has been submitted to and approved by the lead agency 
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             for the operation. 

          2. Requires an operator, within 90 days of a surface mining 
             operation becoming idle, to submit to the lead agency 
             for review and approval, an IMP. 

          3. Defines "idle" to mean a curtailment for a period of one 
             year or more of surface mining operations by more than 
             90 percent of the operation's previous maximum annual 
             mineral production, with the intent to resume those 
             surface mining operations at a future date.

          4. Requires a surface mining operation that remains idle 
             for over one year after becoming idle, without obtaining 
             approval of an IMP, in certain circumstances, to be 
             considered abandoned and requires the operator to 
             commence and complete reclamation in accordance with the 
             approved reclamation plan.

          5. Authorizes an IMP to remain in effect for a period not 
             to exceed five years, after which, the lead agency is 
             authorized to take certain actions, including renewing 
             the IMP for another period not to exceed five years, if 
             the lead agency finds that the surface mining operator 
             has complied fully with the IMP.

          This bill:

          1. Defines "idle" to mean that an operator of a surface 
             mining operation has curtailed production at the surface 
             mining operation, with the intent to resume the surface 
             mining operation at a future date, for a period of one 
             year or more by more than 90 percent of its maximum 
             annual mineral production within any of the last five 
             years. 

          2. Exempt from being considered idle certain surface mining 
             operations, if the operator can demonstrate that the 
             surface mining operation is not in fact idle.

          3. Authorizes an IMP to remain in effect for a period not 
             to exceed five years, after which, the lead agency is 
             authorized to take certain actions, including renewing 
             the IMP for another period not to exceed five years, if 

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             the lead agency finds that the surface mining operator 
             has complied fully with the IMP.

          4. Authorizes the lead agency to continuously renew the IMP 
             for additional five-year periods, if the lead agency 
             finds that the surface mining operator has complied 
             fully with the IMP.

           Background
           
          SMARA requires that a mine operator prepare a reclamation 
          plan that is approved by the lead agency, which is usually 
          a local government.  When an operator decides to idle a 
          surface mining operation, SMARA requires the operator to 
          prepare an IMP for approval by the lead agency.  Idle mines 
          are defined as those at which operations are curtailed for 
          a period of one year or more by more than 90 percent of the 
          previous maximum annual mineral production and where there 
          is an intent to resume surface mining operations at a 
          future date.  If there is no intent to resume mining, a 
          mine is considered either active (and presumably going 
          through the reclamation process) or abandoned. 

          When a mine is idled, SMARA requires an IMP to be submitted 
          to the lead agency for review and approval within 90 days.  
          The lead agency has 60 days to review and approve the IMP, 
          although there are provisions in the law for these 
          deadlines to be extended upon mutual agreement.  Because 
          the IMP is considered an amendment to a reclamation plan, 
          it is also subject to review by the Department of 
          Conservation (CDC).  A lead agency must respond in writing 
          to any comments from the CDC.  Typically, the IMP addresses 
          public health and safety issues that must be addressed 
          until operations are resumed and often include runoff, 
          drainage, erosion control, and temporary fencing.

          SMARA also provides for an appeals process if the lead 
          agency denies approval of the IMP.  IMPs may remain in 
          effect for a period not to exceed five years.  At that 
          point, the lead agency may renew the IMP for another five 
          year period if the operator is in compliance with SMARA.  
          If that does not happen, the operator must begin mining or 
          reclamation.  If the plan is not filed, the mine is 
          considered abandoned and the operator is responsible for 

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          beginning the reclamation process.  In most circumstances, 
          mines that have been idle for more than one year and have 
          not obtained an IMP shall be considered abandoned and the 
          operator must begin reclamation.  

          The IMP is considered an amendment to the applicable 
          reclamation plan and is not subject to the California 
          Environmental Quality Act. 

          Idle mines must maintain approved financial assurances for 
          reclamation and like active mines, must file an annual 
          report with the CDC along with appropriate reporting fees, 
          and are subject to annual inspections.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes   
          Local:  No

          According to the Senate Appropriations Committee:

                         Fiscal Impact (in thousands)

           Major Provisions      2011-12     2012-13     2013-14     Fund  

          Oversight of idle mine        $85       $100      
          $100Special *
             classification

          * Mine Reclamation Account.

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  5/17/11)

          California Construction and Industrial Materials 
          Association (source)
          Basic Resources, Inc.
          Beacon Concrete Inc.
          California Cement Manufacturers Environmental Coalition
          Holliday Rock Company, Inc.
          Lehigh Hanson
          National Cement Company of California, Inc.
          Teichert & Son, Inc.
          Vulcan Materials Company, Western Division
          West Coast Aggregates, Inc.



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           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    The author's office and sponsor, 
          the California Construction Industrial Materials 
          Association (CalCIMA) state that this bill is needed 
          because the current definition of "idle" is unnecessarily 
          narrow and not suitable for mines facing ebbs or spikes in 
          demand caused by large public works projects or, 
          alternatively, depressed construction activities.  The 
          author and CalCIMA point out that a year or two of high 
          demand followed by a drop-off in demand could trigger a 
          requirement for an IMP as would a depressed economy that 
          causes a longer-term decrease in demand. 

          The author and sponsor also state that the determination of 
          "idle" when made by a lead agency could result in the 
          immediate initiation of reclamation without the operator 
          being aware of that determination.  They are also concerned 
          that existing law is ambiguous regarding how many IMP 
          renewals may be granted by a lead agency. 

          Several mining companies are in support of this bill and 
          they all assert that current law inadvertently penalizes 
          operators who experience decreased construction activity.  
          They strongly support provisions in SMARA that would 
          provide expanded opportunities to file IMPs.


          CTW:kc  5/17/11   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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