The Wise Report

The Wise Report
Henry M. Wise, P.G.
November 7, 2008

The Surface Mining and Reclamation Division of the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) has drafted a revised proposal to repeal the existing rules and adopt new rules in Chapter 11, Uranium Exploration and Surface Mining. This project was initiated to implement new statutory provisions giving the Commission authority to regulate uranium exploration. The prior proposal, published in October 2007, received numerous comments. Many of them were well taken but were outside the scope of the proposal, so the Commission could not have adopted rules that included those changes without re-publication. Therefore, the first proposal was allowed to be automatically withdrawn by the Texas Register in May 2008.
In this revised version, the RRC has incorporated many of the comments that were submitted regarding the prior proposal, and has re-organized the rules for greater clarity. There are two significant changes to that earlier proposal. One is with respect to the implementation of the new statutory provisions concerning groundwater quality. The RRC proposal includes a new Subchapter C, entitled Groundwater Quality, to make those rule requirements more prominent. The second significant change concerns the confidentiality of information. In proposed new §11.4, relating to Information Subject to Public Review, the Staff draft establishes an initial presumption that all information filed by an applicant or permittee is considered essential for public review unless the provisions of subsection (b) of §11.4 apply. Subsection (b) sets out a procedure
by which an applicant or permittee could identify as confidential the specific information that could be confidential under the statute, Texas Natural Resources Code, §131.048; a procedure by which the director would make a determination on the confidentiality claim; and a time line that would permit an applicant or permittee sufficient time to obtain injunctive relief in the courts, if desired. The full proposed rule can be found at:

The Surface Mining and Reclamation Division will accept comments on the draft proposal through the on-line comment form, at this link, or by mail to Railroad Commission of Texas, Surface Mining and Reclamation Division, P. O. Box 12967, Austin, Texas 78711-2967.
The Surface Mining and Reclamation Division will also conduct a stakeholders meeting to discuss and take comments on the Staff’s draft proposal on Tuesday, December 9, 2008, from 1:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m., in Room 1-100, on the first floor of the William B. Travis Building, 1701 North Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78701.

In addition, the RRC has a number of proposed forms for use with uranium exploration and and surface mining.  Copies of these forms can be found at:

Henry M. Wise, P.G.
The Wise Report
Henry M. Wise
Friday, November 7, 2008
Government Update