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RALPH M. BLOOM v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (09/24/86)

decided: September 24, 1986.

RALPH M. BLOOM, JR., PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Environmental Hearing Board, in case of Ralph Bloom, Jr. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Resources, Docket No. 84-145-G.

COUNSEL

Eugene E. Dice, for petitioner.

Diana J. Stares, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Rogers and Barry, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt. Judge Rogers dissents.

Author: Blatt

[ 101 Pa. Commw. Page 9]

Ralph M. Bloom, Jr. (petitioner) here requests a review of the order of the Environmental Hearing Board (Board) which dismissed his appeal from an order of the Department of Environmental Resources (Department).

The petitioner owns and operates a one-man underground coal mine in Somerset County. He has operated his mine since 1968 under a permit issued by the Department's predecessor. Pursuant, however, to the Clean Streams Law (CSL)*fn1 and the Surface Mining

[ 101 Pa. Commw. Page 10]

Conservation and Reclamation Act (Pa. SMA),*fn2 the Department issued a compliance order to the petitioner in April 1984, directing him to immediately cease his mining activities and to refrain from operating his mine until he had submitted a complete "repermitting" application.*fn3 This order also specified that, if the repermitting application was not received within sixty days, the petitioner would have to submit a reclamation plan within ninety days of the order.

[ 101 Pa. Commw. Page 11]

The Board denied the petitioner's request for supersedeas and subsequently issued the order here concerned. This Court, however, granted the petitioner's supersedeas application and, consequently, he is currently operating his mine pursuant to the 1968 permit.

On review, the petitioner presents several inter-related questions. In order, however, to resolve the ultimate question in this case, i.e., whether or not his coal mine must be repermitted, we must answer two basic questions: 1) whether or not the 1980 amendments to the CSL and the Pa. SMA and the regulations promulgated thereunder were intended to apply to small coal mining operations such as the petitioner's, and 2) whether or not the petitioner's mining operation is exempted from the repermitting requirements of the CSL by virtue of Section 315(l) of the CSL.

In regard to the first question, the petitioner argues that, because a federal court had held*fn4 that the requirements of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969*fn5 do not apply to his mine, the presence of identical definitional provisions in the Federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (federal SMA)*fn6 precludes application of the federal SMA and the CSL and Pa. SMA to his operation. Inasmuch as the Department's compliance order does not reference the federal SMA, we express no opinion as to the ...


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