(A) There is hereby created in the state treasury the surface mining fund consisting of all money that becomes the property of the state pursuant to sections 1514.05 and 1514.051 of the Revised Code, money credited to the fund under divisions (C)(1) and (2) of section 1514.071, and other money specified in section 1514.11 of the Revised Code. All investment earnings of the fund shall be credited to the fund. Expenditures from the fund shall be made by the chief of the division of mineral resources management for the purpose of reclaiming areas of land affected by surface or in-stream mining under a permit issued under this chapter that the operator has failed to reclaim . Provided that the chief maintains a balance in the fund that is sufficient to achieve that purpose and, in doing so, considers the timeliness of reclamation activity, the chief may use the fund for other purposes specified in section 1514.11 of the Revised Code.
(B) Expenditures of moneys from the fund, except as otherwise provided by this section, shall be made pursuant to contracts entered into by the chief with persons who agree to furnish all of the materials, equipment, work, and labor, as specified and provided in the contracts, for the prices stipulated therein. With the approval of the director of natural resources, the chief may reclaim the land in the same manner as the chief required of the operator who failed to reclaim the land. Each contract awarded by the chief shall be awarded to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder, in accordance with section 9.312 of the Revised Code, after sealed bids are received, opened, and published at the time and place fixed by the chief. The chief shall publish notice of the time and place at which bids will be received, opened, and published, at least once at least ten days before the date of the opening of the bids, in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the area of land to be reclaimed under the contract is located. If, after so advertising for bids, no bids are received by the chief at the time and place fixed for receiving them, the chief may advertise again for bids, or, if the chief considers the public interest will be best served, the chief may enter into a contract for the reclamation of the area of land without further advertisement for bids. The chief may reject any or all bids received and again publish notice of the time and place at which bids for contracts will be received, opened, and published.
(C) With the approval of the director, the chief, without advertising for bids, may enter into a contract with the landowner, a surface or in-stream mine operator or coal mine operator mining under a current, valid permit issued under this chapter or Chapter 1513. of the Revised Code, or a contractor hired by a surety to complete reclamation, to carry out reclamation on land affected by surface or in-stream mining operations that an operator has failed to reclaim.
(D) With the approval of the director, the chief may carry out all or part of the reclamation work on land affected by surface or in-stream mining operations that the operator has failed to reclaim using the employees and equipment of any division of the department of natural resources.
(E) The chief shall require every contractor performing reclamation work under this section to pay workers at the greater of their regular rate of pay, as established by contract, agreement, or prior custom or practice, or the average wage rate paid in this state for the same or similar work, as determined by the chief under section 1513.02 of the Revised Code.
(F) Each contract entered into by the chief under this section shall provide only for the reclamation of land affected by the surface or in-stream mining operation or operations of one operator and not reclaimed by the operator as required by this chapter. If there is money in the fund derived from the performance bond deposited with the chief by one operator to ensure the reclamation of two or more areas of land affected by the surface or in-stream mining operation or operations of one operator and not reclaimed by the operator as required by this chapter, the chief may award a single contract for the reclamation of all such areas of land.
(G) The cost of the reclamation work done under this section on each area of land affected by surface or in-stream mining operations that an operator has failed to reclaim shall be paid out of the money in the fund derived from the performance bond that was deposited with the chief to ensure the reclamation of that area of land. If the amount of money is not sufficient to pay the cost of doing all of the reclamation work on the area of land that the operator should have done, but failed to do, the chief may expend from the reclamation forfeiture fund created in section 1513.18 of the Revised Code or the surface mining fund created in this section the amount of money needed to complete reclamation to the standards required by this chapter. The operator is liable for that expense in addition to any other liabilities imposed by law. At the request of the chief, the attorney general shall bring an action against the operator for the amount of the expenditures from either fund. Moneys so recovered shall be deposited in the state treasury to the credit of the fund from which the expenditures were made.
(H) If any part of the money in the surface mining fund remains in the fund after the chief has caused the area of land to be reclaimed and has paid all the reclamation costs and expenses, or if any money remains because the area of land has been repermitted under this chapter or reclaimed by a person other than the chief, the chief may expend the remaining money to complete other reclamation work performed under this section. The chief shall prepare an annual report that summarizes the money credited to the fund and expenditures made from the fund and post the report on the division of mineral resources management's web site.
Amended by 131st General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 64, §101.01, eff. 9/29/2015.
Effective Date: 03-15-2002; 04-06-200.