Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board in the case of Chester A. Ogden, President, Coal Hill Contracting Company, Inc. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Resources, Docket No. 82-193-G.
Donald A. Brown, Assistant Counsel, for petitioner.
Allan E. MacLeod, for respondent.
Judges Doyle and Colins, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Colins.
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This is an appeal by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Resources (DER) from an adjudication of the Environmental Hearing Board (EHB). The EHB held that DER had improperly forfeited two bonds issued to Coal Hill Contracting Company, Incorporated (Coal Hill) by Clearfield Bank and Trust Company (Clearfield Bank) as surety to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to guarantee compliance by Coal Hill with the requirements of the Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act (SMCRA).*fn1
From 1974 to 1978, Coal Hill was authorized, under six permits issued pursuant to SMCRA, to conduct surface coal mining operations in Lawrence and Bradford Townships in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania. At issue in the instant case are mining permits 1470-1, 1470-1A, 1470-1(A2), and 1470-1(A3)*fn2 and 1470-3,
[ 93 Pa. Commw. Page 156]
granted to Coal Hill for its operations in Bradford Township.
As a condition of obtaining mining permits 1470-2 and 1470-2A, Coal Hill submitted to DER a bond in the amount of Twenty-three Thousand Dollars ($23,000.00). The terms of that bond provide that liability shall accrue in proportion to the area of land affected by surface mining at the rate of Five Hundred Seventy-five Dollars ($575.00) per acre or part thereof. To obtain mining permit 1470-2(A2), Coal Hill submitted a Five Thousand Dollar ($5,000.00) bond to DER which stated that liability shall accrue in proportion to the area of land affected by surface mining at the rate of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) per acre or part thereof. Finally, in order to receive permit 1470-3, Coal Hill submitted to DER Surety Bond No. 558E2324 in the amount of Seven Thousand One Hundred Dollars ($7,100.00). Surety Bond No. 558E2324 provides that liability upon the bond shall accrue in proportion to the area affected by surface mining at the rate of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) per acre or part thereof. All of the above bonds
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state that in no case shall such liability be for an amount less than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00).
Mining permits 1470-2, 1470-2A, 1470-2(A2),*fn3 and 1470-3 were issued for 20 acres, 20 acres, 10 acres, and 7.1 acres respectively, all of which were worked by Coal Hill.*fn4 No reclamation work was completed in the affected areas pertaining to permits 1470-2 and 1470-3. However, all of the ...