30 CFR § 716.3 - Mountaintop removal.

§ 716.3 Mountaintop removal.

(a) Surface coal mining and reclamation operations that remove entire coal seams running through the upper fraction of a mountain, ridge, or hill by removing all of the overburden and creating a level plateau or gently rolling contour with no highwalls remaining are exempt from the requirements of § 715.14 of this chapter for achieving approximate original contour, if the following requirements are met:

(1) An industrial, commercial, agricultural, residential, or public facility (including recreational facilities) use is proposed for the affected land.

(2) The alternative land use criteria in § 715.13(d) of this chapter are met and the proposal is approved by the regulatory authority.

(3) All other applicable requirements of part 715 of this chapter can be met.

(b) Surface coal mining and reclamation operations conducted under this section shall comply with the following standards:

(1) An outcrop barrier of sufficient width consisting of the toe of the lowest coal seam, and its associated overburden shall be retained to prevent slides and erosion.

(2) The final graded top plateau slopes on the mined area shall be less than 1v:5h so as to create a level plateau or gently rolling configuration and the outslopes of the plateau shall not exceed 1v:2h, except where engineering data substantiates and the regulatory authority finds that a minimum static safety factor of 1.5 will be attained.

(3) The resulting level or gently rolling contour shall be graded to drain inward from the outslope except at specific points where it drains over the outslope in protected stable channels.

(4) Damage to natural watercourses below the area to be mined shall be prevented.

(5) Spoil shall be placed on the mountaintop bench as is necessary to achieve the postmining land use approved under § 715.13 of this chapter. All excess spoil material not retained on the mountaintop shall be placed in accordance with the standards of § 715.15 of this chapter.


(1) All permits giving approval for mountaintop removal shall be reviewed not more than 3 years from the date of issuance of the permit, unless the permittee affirmatively demonstrates and the regulatory authority finds that all operations are proceeding in accordance with the terms of the permit and applicable requirements of the Act and the regulations of this part. The terms of the permit shall be in accordance with the requirements of the Act and the regulations of this part.

(2) The terms of a permit for mountaintop removal may be modified by the regulatory authority if it determines that more stringent measures are necessary to prevent or control slides and erosion, prevent damage to natural water courses, avoid water pollution, or to assure successful revegetation.