[Federal Register: December 28, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 248)]
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Mine Safety and Health Administration
30 CFR Parts 18 and 75
Electric Motor-Driven Mine Equipment and Accessories and High-
Voltage Longwall Equipment Standards for Underground Coal Mines
Mine Safety and Health Administration, (MSHA) Labor.
Proposed rule; limited reopening of the record; request for
This notice announces that we (MSHA) have updated our
Preliminary Regulatory Impact and Flexibility Analysis (PRIA) for our
proposed rule on high-voltage longwall equipment and that we are
reopening the rulemaking record for the limited purpose of providing
interested parties an opportunity to comment on the updated PRIA. The
updated PRIA includes an evaluation of the impact of the part 18
approval requirements on small manufacturers and the impact of the
proposed part 75 requirements on small mines. The updated PRIA
concludes that the proposal would not have a significant economic
impact on a substantial number of these small entities. Only comments
addressing the updated PRIA, including the economic impact of the
proposal on small manufacturers and small mine operators described in
the PRIA, will be considered by MSHA. You may obtain a copy of the
updated PRIA from MSHA's Office of Standards, Regulations, and
Variances, 4015 Wilson Boulevard, Room 631, Arlington, VA 22203;
telephone (703) 235-1910. You may also access our Internet web site at
http://www.msha.gov to obtain an electronic copy.
Please submit your comments on or before February 28, 2000.
You may use mail, facsimile (fax), or electronic mail to
MSHA. Clearly identify your comments as such and send them--
(1) By mail to Carol J. Jones, Acting Director, Office of
Standards, Regulations, and Variances, 4015 Wilson Boulevard, Room 631,
Arlington, VA 22203-1984; or
(2) By fax to MSHA, Office of Standards, Regulations, and
Variances, 703-235-5551; or
(3) By electronic mail to zzMSHA-Comments@dol.gov
We would appreciate receiving an original hard copy of your
comments for accuracy.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Carol J. Jones, Acting Director;
Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, MSHA; 703-235-1910.
Copies of this reopening notice and updated PRIA in alternate formats
may be obtained by calling (703) 235-1910.
On December 4, 1989, (54 FR 50062), we issued a proposed rule
revising our electrical safety standards for underground coal mines.
That proposal addressed all of our electrical standards for underground
coal mines and would have allowed the use of high-voltage longwall
equipment; however, it did not specifically focus on the safety issues
related to the use of high-voltage longwall equipment. We published a
new proposed rule on August 27, 1992, (57 FR 39036) related
specifically to the use of high-voltage longwall equipment in
underground coal mines. This proposal also addressed approval
requirements for high-voltage electrical equipment operated in longwall
face areas of underground coal mines. The comment period on the
proposal was scheduled to close on October 23, 1992, but was extended
to November 13, 1992 (57 FR 48350). Because considerable time had
passed since the record had closed, we reopened the rulemaking record
on October 18, 1995 (60 FR 53891), to provide all interested parties an
opportunity to submit additional comments on the proposed rule. The
comment period was scheduled to close on November 14, 1995, but was
extended to December 18, 1995 (60 FR 57203), the date on which the
record closed. We received no requests for a public hearing on the
The high-voltage longwall proposal would revise our existing
standards to allow the use of high voltage longwall mining systems.
Longwall mining is a mining method which has undergone advances in
technology during the past 25 years. These technological advances have
led to improved, safer systems. The proposal would be implemented in
conjunction with revisions to 30 CFR part 18 which would make
conforming changes to approval and design requirements for high-voltage
equipment. The additional requirements under part 18 are also
consistent with advances in mine technology in that they would require
high-voltage switchgear used on face equipment to have enhanced safety
protection from fire, explosion, and shock hazards.
II. Specific Issue: Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)
The RFA requires an agency to analyze a proposed rule's impact on
small entities, publish the analysis for public comment, discuss
regulatory alternatives considered that are consistent with the purpose
of applicable statutes, and explain the rationale for the regulatory
option proposed. If there is no significant economic impact on a
substantial number of small entities, an agency can so certify,
providing a factual basis for the certification. In Chapter V of the
PRIA on the high-voltage longwall proposal (available simultaneously
with the proposed rule on August 27, 1992), we preliminarily assessed
the impact of the proposal and determined that the proposed rule would
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small
mining operations. The preamble to the proposal also included a
discussion of our preliminary conclusions about the impact and cost of
the rule. The 1992 PRIA invited the public to comment on these small
entity and cost conclusions.
At the time the high voltage proposal was published, we used our
traditional definition of a small mine as one that employed fewer than
20 miners. In order to comply fully with the RFA requirements, we must
use the Small Business Administration (SBA) definition of a small
entity. For the mining industry, SBA defines a ``small'' mine as one
with 500 or fewer employees. To ensure that the high-voltage longwall
proposed rule conforms with the RFA, MSHA has analyzed the impact of
the proposed rule on mines with 500 or fewer employees (as well as on
those with fewer than 20 employees). MSHA determined that the proposed
rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial
number of small mines, whether a small mine is defined as one with 500
or fewer miners or one with fewer than 20 miners. The Agency has
further determined that the proposed rule would not have a significant
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities engaged in
the manufacture of high-voltage longwall equipment. The SBA has defined
these small entities as those manufacturers with 750 or fewer
employees. To ensure that the PRIA for the high voltage proposal
conforms with the appropriate criteria, we have updated our evaluation
of the proposal's impact on small mines and small manufacturers in the
updated PRIA using the SBA definitions. The updated PRIA also reflects
current economic and industry data and addresses comments received on the PRIA from
commenters on the 1992 proposal.
III. Request for Comments
This is a limited reopening of the record to provide you an
opportunity to comment on our updated PRIA and its assessment that the
high voltage longwall proposal would not have a significant economic
impact on a substantial number of small entities, either small mines or
small manufacturers of high voltage equipment, as defined by the SBA.
We will consider comments addressing the economic impact of the
proposal on small manufacturers and small mines and our conclusion, in
the updated PRIA, that the proposal would not have a significant
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Comments
addressing the substantive provisions of proposed parts 18 and 75 will
not be considered due to the limited scope of this reopening notice.
We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to provide
information and express your concerns on the specific issues discussed
Again, you can obtain a copy of this reopening notice and the
updated PRIA by contacting MSHA at the address or telephone number
provided at the beginning of this notice. These documents are also
available on our web site at http://www.msha.gov.
December 13, 1999.
J. Davitt McAteer,
Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health.
[FR Doc. 99-33532 Filed 12-27-99; 8:45 am]
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