Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Office April 25, 2007 – Federal Register Recent Federal Regulation Documents

Indian and Federal Lands
Document Number: E7-7647
Type: Proposed Rule
Date: 2007-04-25
Agency: Department of the Interior, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Office
We, OSM, have decided not to adopt a proposed rule that would have revised the definition of ``Indian lands'' for purposes of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA). The proposed rule also would have revised both the Federal lands program and the Indian lands program. If adopted as proposed, the definition of Indian Lands would have included allotted lands located within an approved tribal land consolidation area but outside the boundaries of a reservation. Such allotments would then have been subject to OSM's regulatory authority under the Indian Lands Program. The only lands approved for coal mining that would have been brought within the scope of our jurisdiction if the proposed rule were adopted are 48 Navajo allotments overlying leased Federal coal within the existing McKinley Mine permit area in New Mexico. These allotments are currently regulated by the State. We conclude that the record before us neither adequately supports nor clearly precludes a finding of supervision in fact or in law. Therefore, we conclude that off-reservation Navajo allotted lands may be supervised by the Navajo Nation and thus may be Indian lands; but that any determination as to supervision of specific off-reservation Navajo allotted lands is more properly made on a case-by-case basis. In this notice of final action, we are setting out our analysis of the applicable law and the record before us. We are publishing this analysis for two reasons. First, we intend this analysis to inform the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe and the public of the reasons for our decision not to adopt the proposed rule. Second, we intend this analysis to advise the public of how we anticipate addressing any pending or future actions concerning supervision of allotted lands.